Reminder: Until Very Recently, The Left Was Touting the VA as a Great Model for Government Run Health Care for All
As regular readers may know, Phil Longman thinks the VA model of healthcare is the best around. In the October issue of the Monthly, he takes his admiration to another level, suggesting that the best way to provide healthcare to the 45 million uninsured in America is via — what? I guess you'd call it a franchised version of the VA. Basically, the federal government would offer struggling municipal hospitals a trade: if you adopt the VA's management guidelines, the government will pay you to care for all those uninsured folks currently jamming up your emergency rooms and driving you bankrupt. Deal?
The supposed reason is that great panacea, electronic medical records, cited by the Left as the solution to all woes as often as the Right mentions the Laffer Curve.
"Since its technology-driven transformation in the 1990s...the VA has emerged as the world leader in electronic medical records — and thus in the development of the evidence-based medicine these records make possible." Hospitals that joined Longman's "Vista network" (his name for the VA-like franchise he proposes) would have to install the VA's electronic medical record software and would "also have to shed acute care beds and specialists and invest in more outpatient clinics." By doing this they'd provide better care than any current private network and do it at a lower cost.
Since that time, the Left has mostly stopped talking about the VA as a miracle solution, because it is becoming clear that the VA cuts costs the same way every state health care agency cuts costs -- by restricting capacity, leading to huge waiting times, and rationing care. The scandal here in the AZ VA is just the latest
The chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs said Wednesday that dozens of VA hospital patients in Phoenix may have died while awaiting medical care.
Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said staff investigators also have evidence that the Phoenix VA Health Care System keeps two sets of records to conceal prolonged waits that patients must endure for doctor appointments and treatment.
"It appears as though there could be as many as 40 veterans whose deaths could be related to delays in care," Miller announced to a stunned audience during a committee hearing Wednesday.
Supporters of government health care like t o waive their arms about magic bullets, but the only strategy that has ever reduced costs in government health care systems is rationing and queuing (which is also a form of rationing). Resources are always scarce, but the question is whether we want our health care rationed by government beauracrats or by ourselves. The latter can only happen if we get away from first dollar and single payer medicine and find a way to get real, transparent price signals (which is the way every other service in this country is managed).
"In Britain, even though they're already paying for the National Health Service, six million Brits—two-thirds of citizens earning more than $78,700—now buy private health insurance. Meanwhile, more than 50,000 travel out of the U.K. annually, spending more than $250 million, to receive treatment more readily than they can at home."
Which is the exact same way we run our education system -- everyone has to pay for a basic crappy level of the government monopoly product, and then if you can afford it you pay again to get a better private product.