I never wrote too much about Walter Reed at the time of the scandal. But this week’s resignation of the VA Secretary, reported by the AP as being connected to Walter Reed, is now being used by some on the right to re-attack the concept of universal health care. It’s bad enough that I have to range the web to combat this misinformation. It’s almost worse that it comes from a fellow columnist at my “lay people’s site, Spot-on. So I’m up over there saying, Don’t Blame The VA.
I like to combat the odd Republican in my columns in Spot-on, but it’s fairly unusual that the object of my humorous chiding is a fellow Spot-on-er. But this week Scott Olin Schmidt reworks the tired argument over Walter Reed Army Medical Center saying that since the hospital was revealed as a disaster some months back the government has no hope of competently running health care facilities, and by extension no hope of successfully running any type of health care organization including health insurance.
The evidence that Scott introduces – based on a somewhat misleading Associated Press story – is that Jim Nicholson Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has resigned, apparently because of the Walter Reed scandal. Scott then makes the huge leap to say that if you don’t want to see the kind of problems Walter Reed represents, then you should be opposed to the very notion of universal health-care. And for good measure, he suggests that it is all Hillary Clinton’s fault as she "would apply the VA model for healthcare to everyone with one single-payer."
The problems at Walter Reed were indeed severe, but they were mostly concerned with the incredibly disorganized treatment of outpatients, and their being housed in shameful conditions, while the system essentially ignored them. No one is denying that these were terrible problems, or that whoever was in charge should have fixed them. But blaming this on the VA as a knee-jerk reaction reveals a teeny tiny error.
Walter Reed is not a VA-run hospital. More
Come back here to comment. UPDATE: Other THCB posts on Walter Reed and the VA worth noting: "In Defense of the VA" by Maggie Mahar
"The VA and Health IT. A model that works" by Maggie Mahar
"A National Disgrace" by John Irvine