The VA’s Socialist ParadisePosted: May 22, 2014 | |
For POLITICO Magazine, Rich Lowry writes: For the left, the Department of Veterans Affairs is how health care is ideally supposed to work. No insurance companies, no private doctors, no competition — just the government and the patient.
“people die every day.”
— Socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders
Paul Krugman, The New York Times columnist, has held up the VA as a model for the entire country. The Washington Monthly ran a famous article in 2005 arguing that the VA was leading the way for U.S. health care. The socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, is such a reflexive defender that in an instantly notorious interview on CNN he pooh-poohed the burgeoning scandal that may involve fatalities with the undeniable observation that “people die every day.”
The VA is an island of socialism in American health care. It generally provides adequate care — to a limited universe of people and for only certain conditions — but has been plagued by scandal for decades. It is perhaps the worst bureaucracy in the federal government. As with all such single-payer-type systems, the cost of the notionally free health care is in the rationing, in this case the wait times that have had desperately ill vets hung out to dry for months.
Paul Waldman wrote a blog post in The Washington Post Wednesday imploring President Barack Obama to fix the VA to redeem the liberal vision of government. If six years into his presidency he has yet to fix the VA he promised to fix before he took office, that’s either an indictment of his presidency or the liberal vision of government or both.
As my National Review colleague Jonah Goldberg points out, the usual excuses don’t apply here. The existence of the VA isn’t politically controversial. No one is trying to repeal it, or “sabotage” it. It hasn’t lacked for funds. Its budget has been increasing at a rapid clip. What we’re seeing is simply unaccountable bureaucracy in action.
When the bench mark was created for VA facilities to get vets appointments within 14 days, meeting the goal was easy: All it took was logging appointments dishonestly to hide the wait time, and administrators could duly pocket their performance bonuses. This is how poorly performing government bureaucracies have met goals from time immemorial; it’s why, on a much more vast and monstrous scale, Soviet five-year plans were always such runaway successes on paper…(read more)
Rich Lowry is editor of National Review.
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