As your correspondent understands it, dozens of veterans died while waiting for outpatient appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital. Approximately 1500 vets were assigned to an “off-the-books” waiting list that made the clinics’ official waiting times appear shorter than they really were.
Because waiting times are an important feature of health care quality, the VA was probably holding its local administrators responsible for routinely measuring and reporting them up the chain of command. If reports are true, instead of using their increased budgetary resources to provide more care, the Phoenix bureaucrats allegedly responded by gaming the system.
And the scandal is flourishing. Investigations suggest other VA hospitals may have also adopted the same wait-list legerdemain. A senior D.C. official resigned fast-tracked his already scheduled retirement. The VA Inspector General’sinvestigation prejudgment is that none of the deaths can be attributed to delays in care. You can’t make this stuff up.
“Good grief!” says your correspondent. Numerous articles like this, this and this had convinced lay writers, impressive policy wonks and countless physicians that this version of government run health care was not only the greatest thing since the invention of Medicare, but a model for U.S. health care reform.
Not any more.