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Express health service for prisoners, slow boat for veterans
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It is the $900 million question that more than a few veterans are asking: Why is it taking Uncle Sam so long to build a 120-bed Veterans Administration nursing home and outpatient medical clinic in French Camp?

The $900 million isn’t in reference to the French Camp project but another taxpayer financed health care facility some 10 miles to the east near where Arch Road intersects Austin Road.

It is there that the state is scrambling to get the California HealthCare Facility Stockton completed by the summer of 2013 to meet federal demands. It is a 1,722 bed hospital for medical and mental patients from within the state’s prison system.

The state - responding to pressure placed on it by the federal courts regarding prisoner health care via court-appointed overseer J. Clark Kelso - cobbled together a $7 billion plan to update inmate health care. The receivership was instituted after the state admitted its inability to improve health care in the prison system to “constitutional levels.”

It’s kind of ironic. Men and women who have taken bullets and been put through hell to protect the constitution and our collective freedoms get brushed aside for express service to provide premium health care for criminals who pump bullets into others and put others through hell by practicing their chosen professions of rape, arson, burglary, gang banging, assault, and more.

Making it all the more painful is the state - which can’t print its own money - was pushed into allocating limited resources by the federal system to assure inmates of top care. Meanwhile the federal government has been taking its sweet time to move forward with the $253 million French Camp VA facility that got its authorization almost two years ago.

It’s beyond pathetic.

It’s an insult to law-abiding men and women who risk their lives for this country.

Rest assured that once the VA facility is completed - hopefully sometime before all remaining World War II veterans pass away - that federal court orders will guarantee the care level is still better at the prison facility than any VA hospital.

Veterans have the right to access taxpayer-financed health care while prisoners have the absolute right to get health care in a substantially timelier manner and - in many cases - without waiting for years to get approval for expensive procedures.

Making it all more disgusting is the fact prisoners have carte blanche to sue when they don’t get what they perceive as adequate health care, feel they are a victim of malpractice or one of their other “rights” are allegedly abused. Those who serve in the military essentially have no right to sue for bad health care sustained at the hands of the government. Overall, prisoners have substantially more rights to sue than military personnel.

Murders, rapists and gang bangers have been put at the front of the line by the federal government while those the most responsible for our freedom have been put at the back.


This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at or 209-249-3519.