The VA Really is Socialized Medicine – That’s Why It’s Terrible


Every now and then a smirking leftist at Salon or DailyKos will opine that the military is the only Socialism that Republicans support. That’s not true, but certainly liberals have gotten behind the VA’s Socialized Medicine.

Paul Krugman praised its cost-cutting (medical rationing) power.

“Multiple surveys have found the V.H.A. providing better care than most Americans receive, even as the agency has held cost increases well below those facing Medicare and private insurers,” Krugman wrote in a piece attacking Republican plans to reform the department.

Krugman goes on to insist that the V.H.A. is a model of “socialized medicine” that works by controlling costs.

“Crucially, the V.H.A. is an integrated system, which provides health care as well as paying for it,” Krugman wrote. “So it’s free from the perverse incentives created when doctors and hospitals profit from expensive tests and procedures, whether or not those procedures actually make medical sense.”

Of course ‘perverse’ profit motive incentives don’t go away. They just morph into targets that have to be met at any cost. A quick look at anything from Soviet agriculture to No Child Left Behind would show how that works.

Krugman was either being dishonest or remaining steadfastly ignorant of how the world works, And the VA met its targets and budget issues by rationing health care and killing patients.

The way socialized medicine always does.

Dr. Richard Krugman, former associate chief of staff at the Veterans Affairs health care system based in Harlingen, Texas, said his boss implemented a policy in 2010 that colonoscopies would only be approved if the patient tested positive in three successive screenings for bloody stools.

“By the time that you do the colonoscopies on these patients, you went from a stage 1 to a stage 4 [colorectal cancer], which is basically inoperable,” said Krugman.

“That was done because of dollars and cents. For the VA, they have to be bleeding out of their rectum before they would authorize a colonoscopy. That was the standard of care,” he said.

Meet your death panel.

Ezra Klein at the Washington Post called the VA an example of Socialism that works.

And then there was Colin Powell, who I suspect doesn’t spend a lot of time waiting for a medical test when he needs one.

“I think universal health care is one of the things we should really be focused on, and I hope that will happen,” Powell reportedly said last week. “Whether it’s Obamacare, or son of Obamacare, I don’t care. As long as we get it done.”

The Puget Sound Business Journal reported Powell’s remarks at the Prostate Cancer Survivors Celebration Breakfast at the University of Washington’s Cancer Research Center.

“I am not an expert in health care, or Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, or however you choose to describe it, but I do know this: I have benefited from that kind of universal health care in my 55 years of public life,” Powell said.

You would think however that Powell would be a little more award of the problems at the VA.

Allen West was one of many who replied to Powell, but Powell hasn’t said anything about the VA’s problems even though they long predated this scandal. And those problems are the problems of socialized medicine.

Cost controls mean that people die. The system is wildly inefficient like all government bureaucracies except here the consequences are lethally serious. The attempts at planning everything out lead to fraud and apathy.

  • Douglas J. Bender

    (“aware”, not “award”)

    It’s occurred to me lately that the Founding Fathers would be appalled at what America has become, not only at the morals of much of American society, but at the corruption and ignorance in government itself. America is not America any more, in fundamental ways.

    “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people” has become
    “Government offing the people, bye the people, and forsaking the people”.

  • Ban Liberals

    Would anyone actually expect Krugman or ANYONE from the leftist Times to do anything else?

  • De Doc

    Bingo! The VA is quintessential government health care. There are a few bright stars in the muck, but most are decrepit institutions that reward inept and inefficient bureaucracy, rather than provide decent medical care.

    • DB1954

      Correct. The idea of government health care for military veterans originated in the post-Civil War era. But if we proposed to scrap the VA entirely, liberals would accuse conservatives of a lack of patriotism. One of the ironies of socialist rule.

  • jviscont1

    wars and their survivors have consequences. time to clean house and ante up if that is what it takes to care for our vets.

  • DB1954

    The government could have saved billions by dumping the VA entirely, and simply paying hospitals and doctors for all costs of veterans’ health care. Veterans would receive better care too. On the other hand, now that we have government mandated health insurance, any savings the government realized would probably be lost.

    • BootsontheGround2

      I have never understood that.
      Why must vets be cordoned off from professional health care like the plague ?
      They don’t even treat prostitutes and homosexuals that way who are caught illegally carrying on their “profession”.

      • James Albro

        Gee… I didn’t realize that homosexuals had a common “profession” What would that be boots?

        • BootsontheGround2

          Sodomy. You know…anything that YOU do in your own private business.

          • James Albro

            You can always count on boots to show that he is 14 years old… Mentally

  • Bruce Price

    I would just thinking this morning that there is an obvious cartoon here….The president and his advisers, in the foreground, gesture at the VA building in the background: “That’s where we do our death panel R&D.”

  • Tim N

    I can’t speak for all of them, but the VA here in Palo Alto is state of the art.

  • Clare Spark

    Dems blame Bush’s wars for the increased demand upon VA medicine. One might better ask, why is there a doctor shortage?

  • tagalog

    It’s not just the VA; all of military life is engaged in collectivism. The military is the ultimate command system. We in free societies tolerate that because we need people to be trained collectively to be able to fight as members of a big machine, but except for the level of respect we give our fighting citizens for volunteering for such a life, it’s not the life that most of us would voluntarily choose. That’s part of the reason why we respect them, because they put up with the chicken stuff in order to “see the elephant.” Even many of the people who volunteer for it don’t stay for more than a tour or two. It’s one of the reasons why a free people should resist involuntary conscription unless our collective back is to the wall.

    It’s why, if our people do volunteer for it, we provide them with lifetime health care through the VA. The reason why the VA has done so badly for so long is that they are not accountable to the people they treat, but to the government, which currently is anti-military service and therefore anti-the health care system we created to show our gratitude to those who agree to fight for us.

  • BootsontheGround2

    The VA has sucked for a very long time.
    My Grandfather was injured twice, and suffered malaria in Guadalcanal, 1st Marine’s under “Huxley’sWhores”.
    When sent stateside, my natural grandmother had contracted TB and was quarrantined. She released him from marriage and told him to find someone else while she died in a hut by gov’t quarrantine with another TB victim as her spouse.
    He stayed in administrative work for the Marines and married a military brat who was a complete asswhole who refused to put up with any of his PTSD scenario’s and frequently put him in the VA for shock therapy.
    He was virtually labotomized by the time his grandchildren were born, but was super nice guy, and when my mom and dad divorced, the wicked-military brat step-grandmother refused to allow him to see us, some 70 miles away, while living in destitute poverty. My dad was a philandering idiot who tormented my Christian mother mentally on a regular basis.
    I can find no record of my grandfather on the 1st Marine’s website, nor any evidence that he ever recieved a purple heart, let alone two of them.
    Now Obama hands out medals to minorities like candy.
    I have nothing but contempt for any of the VA or those who abuse their socialist system to torment Vet’s.

    • 2TiredoftheGovernment

      i AGREE WITTH YOU TO AOUT THE VA i was uunder there care up until all of the things i have been reading about them here lately, and after they cut my pain meds which was my Morphine that i had been on for over ten years which i guess was a good thing in ways because sometimes i think they were just trying to kill me off too. And now i am not even going to them anymore even though i need to have some surgery done on my neck for some bad disc and pinched nerves but i am scared of them now too about letting any doctor at the VA do any cutting on me because they might just put me to sleep, and never wake me up again. And i am in a wheelchair and had one of the head Neurologist that was telling me that i had some kind of Motor Neuron Disease which i found out later that that wasn’t true after all, after seeing a outside Doctor and he found the bad disc in my neck causing all off my problems. But as you know you can’t sue the government for miss dianogist (sp) but i don’t have the money to sue them even if i could anyway now, because i am going to have to pay for it out of my own pocket whatever Medicare and my secondary insurance i have don’t pay. And after the waiting around for the VA to do something i am mostly bed ridden because it has gotten a lot worse now to so I am glad that the VA didn’t do anything to me now too.