Kevin Drum, six months ago:

THE BEST CARE ANYWHERE....Thanks to innovations introduced
during Bill Clinton's administration, VA healthcare is now among the
nation's best. It's cheaper than either private healthcare or Medicare,
the quality is top notch, and it operates according to strict
performance standards. Sounds like a great model, doesn't it?

That quality government management and incentives system will do it every time.

Folks on the left are already gearing up to blame the current Walter Reed mess on the current administration, thus scoring points off Bush (fine with me) while not having to question the inherently poor quality of government-managed health care systems.


  1. Xmas:

    Well, one comment that been floating around is that Army Hospitals aren't VA hospitals. I'm not sure how separated the two entities are though.

    Second, Walter Reed was one of the bases that the 2005 Base Closing Commission has recommended to close. The Wikipedia says that conditions at the out-patient building were brought to light in 2005, in a Salon article.

  2. Jim Collins:

    The problems with the VA healthcare system go back a hell of alot further than the current administration. In all fairness they go back further than the Clinton Administration. From 1973 untill he died in 1990 my Father spent more time in VA hospitals than he did at home. Conditions were lousy then. One thing though, I am NOT criticizing the the people providing the care, they did the best they could with what they had and were allowed to do. I'm criticizing the administration of these hospitals. I'm not going to get specific, because I saw the same thing in three different hospitals. There was a ward where everything was pristine. The only time there were any patients in this ward was when there were visitors schedualed to visit the hospital. I remember going to my Father's room, just to find that he had been moved to this ward. I get there and start thinking that this is pretty nice, the next day he was back in his old room and there were pictures in the local paper about a Congresscritter visiting the hospital that day. Don't think for a minute that the Congresscritter didn't know what was going on, it just enabled them to honestly say that they didn't know about any problems.

  3. Tribal Elder:

    Think of VA healthcare as the model for national gov't enforced monopoly health care.

    Once while standing in a long, winding line at the Post Office, back when Mrs. Clinton sought to be our health Czarina, I envisioned a long line of Americans, standing in hospital gowns, some with ties missing, with paperwork in their left hands and a specimen cup in their right. They were standing in front of a sign that read "Wait here for next available doctor."

    I suspect there is already a warehouse full of these signs somewhere. They're probably bilingual.

  4. Dave Moelling:

    It always struck me why an atypical beast like the VA health system was chosen as the poster child. I still believe it's law that only service related illnesses are treated by VA (although this is nearly infinitely elastic under some circumstances). The system grew up after WWII when the injured and ill from a 10-12 million man military were present. It acquired some expertise in treating and rehabilitating wound injuries. This was also a time when health insurance was not so widespread as today.

    There is no reason today that VA services could not be provided as insurance (via the current military retiree plans) with a contracted out specialized care for military wounds at civilian hospitals. The political reality is that the pork VA hospitals provide is large and widespread.