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Don’t Blame The VA

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

            "Army pledges fixes at Walter Reed" by John Irvine             "Debating the Quality of VA care" by Eric Novack

            

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PeterJenniferRichard HamblinmattMike - DFA Recent comment authors
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Peter
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Peter

“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.” Do the same people bashing the VA/Walter Reed also make the extension: “that since the Iraq War was revealed as a disaster some months back, the governement has no hope of completely running any type of war, including the war on terrorism.” But… Read more »

Jennifer
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Jennifer

There is a general discussion of health care issues over at this blog:
http://www.barackobama.com/issues/healthcare/?discussion

Richard Hamblin
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Richard Hamblin

I find it ironic that Republicans often bash governmental institutions…that they themselves are running (poorly).
Indeed – I am reminded of PJ O’Rourke’s quip that Republicans believe that Government is a disaster, and when they get into power they go about proving it.
Thanks Matthew for some truth into the Walter Reed story, it’s fascinating that the VA has not been more strenuous in its own defense. I can only assume that political forces at cabinet level have stymied this. If I was management within VA healthcare I’d be fuming.

matt
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matt

I find it ironic that Republicans often bash governmental institutions…that they themselves are running (poorly).
Maybe that’s why they put incompetents in charge (“Helluva job, Brownie!, etc, etc.).

Mike - DFA
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Democracy for America is spearheading a Health Care for America Campaign.
Congressman from coast to coast will be getting knocks on their doors from various groups and people, who we’re backing, and they’ll be forced to hear us out.
To find out what we’re up to, visit: democracyforamerica.com/healthcare