mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Health Care Fail?
Death and Corruption at a Veteran's Affairs Hospital

The very model of government-run health care is looking unwell these days. After over 40 veterans died while waiting for care at a Veteran’s Affairs hospital in Phoenix, a whistleblower claimed that the hospital disguised its long waiting list by putting some veterans on a secret list. No one would ever know these patients had ever sought or received care, while in the meantime, those on the public list appeared to get timely treatment. The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs has issued a subpoena demanding all email records related to the scandal, as the NYT reports

The committee chairman, Representative Jeff Miller, Republican of Florida, said the subpoena was necessary because the department had been “stonewalling” requests to provide more information about claims that an off-the-books waiting list was used to hide wait times, and that the list may have been subsequently destroyed.

The left has long lauded the VA as an example of successful government-run health care, even suggesting it could provide a model for a national single-payer system. And yet the corruption, cover-ups, and long delays at the Phoenix hospital may be going on at VA hospitals nationwide. Government agencies aren’t easily held accountable by the American people, and the VA hospitals appear to be no different. We often say that the U.S. health care system needs more transparency and consumer control, not less. The same could be said for the U.S. government.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Corlyss

    In all the discussions about gov’t run health care for everyone, I’ve been waiting for someone to look to the Tri-Care “system,” for military retirees and their dependents and active-duty personnel dependents, for insights into how it functions.

    The choices in my experience (my late mother’s actually) are badly and not at all. When I heard of the double-bookkeeping to disguise months-long waits, I was reminded of the late 80s when my mother needed to get knee-replacement surgery and had to go thru Tri-Care. First, you could make an appt. only by calling on certain days between certain hours. Even if you called the appt. lines immediately they opened, they had no call-waiting; you either got in at once or you kept calling back for all the hours they were open. Usually after the initial hours of the first day, all the appointments were taken. Then when you finally got in to see the triage PA or doctor, they would refer you to a specialist, in her case at Walter Reed. But they didn’t make the appt. for you. You had to go thru the same frustrating effort to get thru a few phone lines during limited hours. Then when she finally got thru to make an appt. with the orthopedic doctor at Walter Reed, the appt. clerk laughed and told her, “Lady, the earliest we can book you for just a preliminary appt. is more than 6 months out.” At which point I pitched a fit, took over the process, got her signed up with my boss’ doctor at National Orthopedic Hospital, a civilian establishment. She actually got the surgery before she could have gotten an appt. thru the Tri-Care system.

    This, boys and girls, is the future of medical care under the ACA.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service