10:42 AM, Mar 14, 2014 • By MARIA SANTOS
Daniel Gade lost his right leg in Iraq. But Gade, an assistant professor of political science at the U.S. Military Academy, does not consider himself disabled. Instead, he uses himself as an example of how the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs often inaccurately assesses disability.
“I have a Ph.D. in public policy, I do Ironman triathlons, I rode my bike across the country in 2012. But according to the VA, when I leave the army, I will be 100 percent disabled, unable to work, completely disabled. That’s an illustration of the fact that this is a really broken system.”
According to Gade, the VA currently uses a “medical model” to determine disability, rather than a “social model.” This means that the VA only looks at the medical condition, stripped of all context. A “social model” considers the medical condition, but within the broader context of other factors in the veteran’s life that might be unique to each situation. In cases like veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the VA does not even require veterans to try to obtain treatment before they deem them disabled.
Gade discussed this and other problems with the government’s treatment of veterans with PTSD with a panel of experts at the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday morning. The panelists shared their thoughts on how to improve the system. The methods the VA uses to define disability, according to the panelists, may be leading programs to benefit the wrong people.
In one example, nearly half of the veterans entering the VA’s “Individual Unemployability” program for the first time are 60 and over, and almost 20 percent are over 75—turning an unemployment program into a supplemental retirement program. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 remains around 20 percent.
The panelists also addressed the concern that disability programs may set up perverse incentives by rewarding unemployment. They stressed that disability should not be incompatible with work. Several also suggested that seeking treatment should be a prerequisite to qualifying for disability. Mandatory treatment might help sort out the truly dire cases, and help “wean” more manageable cases off the program and rehabilitate them back into civilian life.
Two psychiatrists on the panel, Stephen N. Xenakis and Sally Satel, both criticized the VA’s medical procedures. “The disability system that we as Army physicians and the VA use was first laid down in the '50s, and has had little change since then. It was an industrial-age model,” says Xenakis. “Medicine has changed in 60 years immeasurably. The regulations and the guidelines have not…I can’t believe it. In the early '70s, we didn’t even have an idea what PTSD was and what it meant.” Xenakis, like Gade, wants a more comprehensive system that considers factors like family, relationships, diet, and exercise.
Satel calls the current methods for determining whether someone is disabled by PTSD “clinically invalid.” She says that it makes “no sense” to make a disability determination without someone being treated, since a psychiatrist cannot determine a patient’s future prospects without treatment. “To take someone out of the workforce is devastating…we should only put someone at risk for that kind of loss at a very high threshold.”
6:00 AM, Feb 10, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL AND JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Obamacare is failing. Faced with this unpleasant reality, President Obama offered up during his State of the Union address his only remaining defense of his eponymous program: There is no alternative. “[M]y Republican friends…if you have specific plans…tell America what you’d do differently….We all owe it to the American people to say what we’re for, not just what we’re against.”
12:22 PM, Feb 3, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Ezekiel Emanuel—Rahm’s older brother and the man who, as far back as 2009, current Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse warned was “quarterbacking the details” of Obamacare—has authored a New York Times op-ed in which he criticizes the proposed alternative released last week by Senators Coburn, Burr, and Hatch. Emanuel, a rather feisty fellow (see his Fox News exchange with Jim Capretta—during which he admitted that, under Obamacare, the “individual market is going away”), has written some, well, provocative things about what he calls the “allocation of scarce medical interventions.” For example, he’d prioritize the lives of the young over the old, but would nevertheless prioritize the lives of adolescents over infants. That’s because adolescents “have received substantial education and parental care, investments that will be wasted without a complete life. Infants by contrast, have not yet received these investments.” Yes, that’s who designed Obamacare, with all of its central planning and government control over Americans’ health-care decisions and their lives. (Feel better now?)
2:00 PM, Jan 30, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Ted Cruz says that anyone in favor of the so-called immigration reform bill "should go ahead and put a 'Harry Reid for Majority Leader' bumper sticker on their car."
11:37 AM, Jan 29, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
House majority leader Eric Cantor applauded President Obama's push for so-called immigration reform in last night's State of the Union Address:
8:40 PM, Jan 27, 2014 • By JAMES C. CAPRETTA
As Bill Kristol and Jeff Anderson noted earlier today, the introduction by Republican Senators Burr, Coburn, and Hatch of an Obamacare replacement plan is an important milestone in the health care debate. This is a serious and practical replacement proposal, offered by three prominent legislators. It could easily serve as the starting point for a legislative effort, perhaps even next year if Republicans regain control of the Senate, to undo Obamacare and replace it with something far better.
11:09 AM, Jan 27, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
2017 Project executive director (and frequent TWS contributor) Jeff Anderson has an important memo outlining the new health care reform proposal from three senior Republican senators that would repeal Obamacare and replace it with legislation that "beats Obamacare in every particular" and would also "address many of the most serious shortcomings of the pre-Obamacare status quo." You can read Anderson's memo in full, below. There's been a lot of talk in magazines and from think tanks about a "conservative reform agenda"—and some laments as to the slowness of GOP elected officials to champion such an agenda. This proposal could mark an important moment in the dam of timidity and resistance breaking, and could prove to be an important inflection point in the GOP's effort to become by 2016 a national governing party.
7:16 PM, Nov 13, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
White House photographer Pete Souza tweets this picture of President Obama and Vice President Biden holding hands "during a prayer at end of mtg w faith leaders on immigration reform."
10:12 AM, Nov 1, 2013 • By THOMAS G. DEL BECCARO
The government shutdown drama is over, and already it feels like ancient history. But Republicans made missteps and suffered for them, so it’s worth pointing out how Republicans can recover and succeed in 2014 and beyond. In short, they must adopt an agenda— and run on it.
Reforms are nice, but will they happen?Nov 11, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 09 • By MARK BAUERLEIN
Everyone’s angry at American colleges. Parents groan about tuition, students pile up debt and can’t find work, employers gripe that graduates lack job skills, conservatives decry liberal bias, Ph.D.s without a regular post become bitter transient adjuncts, and politicians suspect that tax dollars pay for useless majors and cushy schedules for professors.
The increasingly imperious Arne Duncan.Sep 30, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 04 • By FREDERICK M. HESS AND MAX EDEN
In the early days of the Obama administration, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was the bipartisan superstar. At Duncan’s confirmation hearing, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) told him, “President-elect Obama has made several distinguished cabinet appointments, but in my view of it all, I think you are the best.”
Sep 30, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 04 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
When it approved reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) last year, a normally spendthrift Congress showed that its members could work together and do the right thing for taxpayers. Majorities from both parties voted to end some of the program’s subsidies for vacation homes and “severe repetitive loss” properties (ones taxpayers have already paid to rebuild multiple times).
'More people retiring early, going on disability, turning to welfare, and giving up looking for work altogether.'9:01 AM, Sep 2, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican, is marking Labor Day with a statement lamenting the decline in America’s workforce and the strident push toward passing an immigration bill.