Lessons of the VA Scandal

Photo Credit: National Review If our government has any obligation to fulfill its many promises on health care, it should be first and foremost to the men and women who served in our armed forces. But the scandal over hidden waiting lists at a growing number of veterans’ hospitals (seven so far) — wherein dozens of veterans died while waiting months for vital treatment, and the VA covered up the lengthy wait times — should make everyone wonder whether we can place our trust in a government-managed health-care system. The Dayton Daily News reported on Sunday that its investigation of a database of claims paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs shows that the words “delay in treatment” were used 167 times. The VA paid out a total of $36.4 million to settle the claims. There could well be many more cases of “death by delay” at the VA that never came to light.

Are there lessons in the VA scandal for the rest of us if Obamacare survives and even expands?

You betcha. The first lesson is that as government expands taxpayer subsidies for health care, the demand will always outstrip supply. Here is President Obama in a speech to disabled veterans in August 2013:

The last time I was with you, I pledged to cut the backlog, slash those wait times, deliver your benefits sooner. And I’m going to be honest with you; it has not moved as fast as I wanted. Part of it is all these new veterans in the system who came in — Agent Orange, PTSD. It means a lot more claims, and despite additional resources, it’s resulted in longer waits. And that’s been unacceptable — unacceptable to me, unacceptable to [Department of Veterans Affairs] Secretary [Eric] Shinseki.

A few weeks later, President Obama had to admit that he found the fiasco of the HealthCare.gov website also “unacceptable.” Last week, his aides told reporters he was “madder than hell” over the veteran waiting-list scandal.

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