The VA Scandal Should Put An End to Any Talk of Government-Run Healthcare

Obamacare needs to be dismantled and replaced with market-driven reforms, the kind that harness the collective power of consumers to drive price competition and change. But after the recent revelations attending the Veterans Affairs hospital scandals one thing has come into clearer focus – America cannot allow Democrats to move us any closer to socialized medicine.

Let’s be clear that there is a clear contingent of liberals who want to move the nation in that direction. During President Obama’s time in the Illinois Senate he said, “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program . . . But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately.” Much more recently Harry Reid told PBS that, “What we’ve done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever.” When asked by a panelist whether that meant moving to a system that abandoned insurance as a means of accessing health care, Reid responded: “Yes, yes. Absolutely, yes.”

The argument for government-run healthcare is also coming from the bottom up. Sarah Jaffe reports:

They believe that the ACA’s continued reliance on (and subsidies of) private insurance simply aren’t good enough. . . What these activists want is a program that would replace existing insurance programs, cover everyone regardless of their employment status, and be funded by the government, with tax dollars. Such a plan had strong support when the national healthcare overhaul was being crafted in 2009—including initial backing by President Obama—but the president and Congress decided it wasn’t politically possible and passed the ACA as a compromise.

Where do liberals want to take us? What model are they looking to for reform? Not all that long ago they were looking to the VA. Influential liberal thinker Paul Krugman wrote in 2008:

American health care is desperately in need of reform. But what form should change take? Are there any useful examples we can turn to for guidance?

Well, I know about a health care system that has been highly successful in containing costs, yet provides excellent care. And the story of this system’s success provides a helpful corrective to anti-government ideology. For the government doesn’t just pay the bills in this system — it runs the hospitals and clinics.

No, I’m not talking about some faraway country. The system in question is our very own Veterans Health Administration, whose success story is one of the best-kept secrets in the American policy debate.

Best kept secret huh? The real secret is that the VA is a bureaucratic mess that has long rewarded inefficiency and substandard care, and nobody in the Obama Administration can muster up enough energy to care. Take, for instance, the 21 veterans who contracted Legionnaire’s disease at the Pittsburgh VA in 2012. Six of them would die. Or the 2013 investigation that found sewer water in a radiation therapy room, bone in surgical instruments from previous patients, and patients dying because doctors used unsterile equipment. Or this terrifying testimony from the daughter of one veteran in 2013:

“Every day his dignity was stripped away as he defecated in his diaper then dug his own feces out because he wasn’t being tended to properly. We made several requests that he be moved closer to the nurses’ station because of this issue and because of his severe paralysis. Those requests went unanswered though many promises were made. My Dad died on December 24, 2011 due to bacterial sepsis and aspiration pneumonia. E coli, like that found in feces was found in his body and around his heart.”

And then there’s the myriad scandals popping up at myriad VA’s across the U.S. In just the last few weeks we’ve learned about secret waiting lists meant to hide the fact that veterans are waiting months, even years, for care. As many as 40 veterans have repeatedly died while waiting for care at the Phoenix VA hospital alone.

These are snapshots of government-run health care. These are the reasons why the Left cannot be allowed to pursue their vision of “reform.”