The VA scandal’s lesson for ObamaCare
By Post Editorial Board
May 21, 2014 | 10:31pm
It’s tempting to lay all the blame for the disgraceful treatment of US vets by the hospitals meant to serve them on President Obama. And to call for the head of Eric Shinseki, secretary of Veterans Affairs.
It’s tempting especially because in 2008, then-Sen. Obama, a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, made the VA hospitals part of his campaign for president — and his transition team was briefed by VA officials shortly after winning about the waiting times that were covered up and have now exploded into the news.
Once again, the president tells us he only learned about the problems when the news reported it and is “mad as hell.”
The president’s reaction is pathetic. But so is the idea that firing Shinseki will somehow fix what ails the VA hospitals. Or that the bill the House just passed will do it.
The truth is these hospitals are a mess and have been under both Republican and Democratic administrations.
In the George W. Bush years, we had a scandal over the filthy conditions at Walter Reed.
In the Clinton years, The Washington Post ran a story headlined “VA Hospitals Report Thousands of Errors, Many Causing Death.” Previous administrations had their own share of VA scandals.
The real problem is not management. The real problem is government-provided health care. In truth, we didn’t have to pass the bill, as then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of ObamaCare, to find out what was in it.
A look at the VA hospitals would have been more than enough to anticipate the massive problems that keep popping up as we try to implement ObamaCare.
By all means we need to do better by our veterans.
That begins with recognizing that the problems they’ve experienced at the VA hospitals — unaccountable bureaucracy, long waiting lists, rationed care — are the hallmark of government health care.
If the government can’t even make such a system work for our vets, what makes anyone think it will work for the rest of us?