Liberals once touted VA as a model of socialized medicine
Given what we know now about the Veterans Administration and it's disgraceful care for our soldiers, these thoughts from liberal columnists Paul Krugman and Ezra Klein would be comical if the situation wasn't so serious.
In 2011, Krugman wrote a column blasting Mitt Romney after the Republican presidential candidate called for partially privatizing the system. “What Mr. Romney and everyone else should know is that the V.H.A. is a huge policy success story, which offers important lessons for future health reform,” he wrote.
The lessons, he said, were that the incentives created by its integrated care model led to less waste and better quality care. “(Y)es, this is ‘socialized medicine,’” Krugman wrote, noting that some private enterprises also took a similar approach. “But it works — and suggests what it will take to solve the troubles of U.S. health care more broadly.”
In a 2007 article for the American Prospect, Ezra Klein also praised the system's outcomes. “What makes this such an explosive story is that the VHA is a truly socialized medical system,” Klein wrote. “The unquestioned leader in American health care is a government agency that employs 198,000 federal workers from five different unions, and nonetheless maintains short wait times and high consumer satisfaction.”
Both authors cited Phillip Longman, who wrote an influential book on the Left titled Best Care Anywhere: Why VA Health Care is Better Than Yours. Longman, in a 2005 article for the Washington Monthly that led to the book, wrote, “It turns out that precisely because the VHA is a big, government-run system that has nearly a lifetime relationship with its patients, it has incentives for investing in quality and keeping its patients well--incentives that are lacking in for-profit medicine.”
The description of the system offered by liberals stands in stark contrast to the horrifying reality depicted in recent reports on how the veterans' health care system has neglected patients and covered up wait times – at a deadly cost.
The Washington Examiner reported in February that backlogged orders for medical care were being mass purged at hospitals in Los Angeles and Dallas to make wait times seem less than they really were.
Last month, CNN reported that at least 40 veterans had died waiting for treatment at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs medical system, and that many were put on a “secret waiting list” to mask the fact that 1,400 to 1,600 veterans had to wait months for doctors.
It should go without saying that you could never get away with what the VA is doing in the private sector. In fact, the incentives would work to cut wait times and improve care rather than cover up deficiencies.
In short, gas bags like Krugman and Klein don't know what they're talking about. Or, they simply believe in fairy tales about socialism's promises. They obviously haven't looked very closely at the disaster in Great Britain as the NIH kills thousands every year with long wait times for appointments, filthy hospitals, and shortages of all kinds.
That, is socialism's promise.