Friday, May 30

The VA health scandal has a lesson for *every* American--if you're paying attention

Why did administrators at several VA hospitals order their staff to create fake records that would hide the outrageously long times veterans had to wait to see VA docs for health threats like heart problems or cancer?  (Investigators have found some vets had to wait more than a year for an appointment.)

Two reasons:  First is simple greed--like the IRS, the VA pays huge bonuses and/or raises to administrators when performance statistics improve.  Fair enough.  Problem is, a lot of managers decided getting the bonus was worth faking the stats.

Obviously all sectors of life have a few dishonest people.  But at least in the private sector you can fire 'em (though the government is making that harder and harder every day).  By contrast, it's virtually impossible to fire a government employee for something as trivial as ordering subordinates to lie about something as trivial as performance statistics.

No one got fired even after a few courageous employees complained about this abhorrent situation to the Inspector General.  Nothing was done.  Nothing.

The second reason for creating fake records is to hide the utter incompetence of single-payer health-care.  For veterans who were wounded in combat or are impoverished, the VA is their health provider.  If you've been paying attention you may have heard that the Democrats want to force *all* Americans into a single-payer system.  The VA is just the sort of government-run, single-payer health care with which the political left is so enamored.

But when there's only one payer, there's only one decision-maker. The VA decides who gets care, when, and how much.  And if there's not enough money to pay for the care demanded, there’s only one result — rationing of care.

Rationing care can take many forms. It can be overt, like the Canadian or British health care systems, which have publicly-announced waiting times and openly refuse to cover certain procedures that are routine in the U.S. (right now, at least).  But rationing can also be concealed from the public. This latter, covert form of rationing is what the VA has been doing.

Because money is always limited, it's impossible to avoid rationing in a single-payer system.  And to the extent a single health provider is inefficient or poorly managed — as is generally problem with government operations, not just the VA — it will always hide the poor management by cutting services--rationing--so managers don't look bad.

There won’t be any public debates about whether a particular procedure will be offered, because such debates are too politically charged. So in this country, government-run, single-payer systems will ineluctably lead to secret rationing--by unelected, un-fireable bureaucrats whose main interest is winning that next big bonus.

And to repeat:  This is the health system many Democrats have openly said they want to force on the public.  (But not on themselves, of course.)

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