There are very few things democrats and republicans agree on these days, but the treatment of our veterans is one of them. From the most hawkish republican to the most dovish liberal, we all want to see our returning veterans treated well, starting with their healthcare. Thus, the outrage over the VA scandal has been as bipartisan as any you’ll see in this town and has led President Obama uncharacteristically to hold someone actually accountable with their job. However, whether Eric Shinseki is truly culpable or what President Obama knew or when he knew it or who covered up what is not the topic of this post.
I am more interested in the implications of the VA’s performance on the rest of the US healthcare system and how liberals are currently trying to engineer it. To put it simply, the liberal vision of US healthcare is that we all use the VA health system. Not the actual VA, but a single payer, government run health system. Most of us turn to other countries to better understand what that would look like. Indeed, studying the socialist health systems in Canada, the UK, or Sweden can be instructive. What those analyses show is a two-tier system where the wealthy have secondary insurance to guarantee high quality, on-demand healthcare and the middle class and poor live with the long wait times and frequently mediocre care that the government system provides.
Yet it is even more instructive to study our own government health program for veterans. It must surely represent the best we can do since we are all aligned that our vets should get the best possible treatment. As the past few weeks have shown, the government run VA health system is a colossal mess. I won’t chronicle the details here as you can and probably already have read them elsewhere. What’s clear about the mess is that it was brought on by a unionized federal workforce that performed poorly and then covered up their poor performance.
Sadly, this doesn’t surprise anyone. We’ve all dealt with the TSA, the DMV, the USPS, etc. None of them functions well. An entire private industry rose up around the incompetence of the US Postal Service and Federal Express has a $43 billion market cap. When was the last time you sent an important business document via the USPS? We now also have the benefit of having watched the fiasco of the federal government attempt the simplistic task of rolling out a website just to sign up for health insurance. It has been an abject disaster.
And yet, liberals now want to hand over our entire healthcare system to the exact same people, systems, and unionized workforce who were fundamentally incapable of providing decent healthcare to the one segment of the population we all support unconditionally. In what fantasy world is that going to work?