The VA Really is Socialized Medicine - That's Why It's Terrible

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


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.