OshNW Letter Writer Gets It Wrong - Walter Reed Scandal Caused by Private Sector Healthcare, not Public

In today's OshNW, a letter writer blamed 'National Healthcare' for the scandalous treatment of our troops at Walter Reed.

These past few weeks there have been disclosures of substandard medical care of our military personnel at the Walter Reed Medical Center. Be honest. Are we really surprised by this information? This medical facility is run by our government. Turn anything over to the "leadership" in Washington and this is what you get!

I wish this letter writer would have done more research in the matter. If he had, he would have learned that it was by turning the operations of the Walter Reed facility to private interests that caused the decrease in quality of the care.

An Army contract to privatize maintenance at Walter Reed Medical Center was delayed more than three years amid bureaucratic bickering and legal squabbles that led to staff shortages and a hospital in disarray just as the number of severely wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan was rising rapidly.

Documents from the investigative and auditing arm of Congress map a trail of bid, rebid, protests and appeals between 2003, when Walter Reed was first selected for outsourcing, and 2006, when a five-year, $120 million contract was finally awarded.

The disputes involved hospital management, the Pentagon, Congress and IAP Worldwide Services Inc., a company with powerful political connections and the only private bidder to handle maintenance, security, public works and management of military personnel.

While medical care was not directly affected, needed repairs went undone as the non-medical staff shrank from almost 300 to less than 50 in the last year and hospital officials were unable to find enough skilled replacements.

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