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Hullabaloo


Thursday, May 22, 2014

 
Obamacare ruined the VA. Or something.

by digby

I was forced to watch Fox for a while yesterday and realized that the burgeoning VA scandal is really about Obamacare, which seems odd, but makes sense when you remember they lie constantly about everything. The argument rested on the idea that the VA is a government program and so is Obamacare, and that automatically makes them useless. Now, when it was pointed out that they were very different programs and that Obamacare is basically just a bunch of vouchers to buy healthcare rather than a real government program like say Medicare they just started screaming the word "hybrid" as if it were a primal war cry.

But this seems to be the emerging line. The VA is all screwed up so Obamacare will be all screwed up and you're all going to die! Runferyerlives! (As usual...)

But as Jonathan Cohn points out, (aside from their incomprehensible dishonest babble) there is a little problem with their argument:

It’s worth remembering that some of the problems veterans are having right now have very little to do with the VA and a whole lot to do with American health care. As Phil Longman, author of Best Care Anywhere, noted in his own congressional testimony last week, long waits for services are actually pretty common in the U.S.—even for people with serious medical conditions—because the demand for services exceeds the supply of physicians. (“It took me two-and-a-half years to find a primary care physician in Northwest Washington who was still taking patients,” he noted.) The difference is that the VA actually set guidelines for waiting times and monitors compliance, however poorly. That doesn’t happen in the private sector. The victims of those waits suffer, too. They just don’t get the same attention.
But that's just the market working and so it's a good thing. Right?

Meanwhile, Ed Kilgore puts this all in perspective for you in case you are wondering where this is going:
[T]he longer the VA scandal stays in the public eye, the more we will hear arguments the VA should be broken up and its services privatized with federal regulations and subsidies replacing federal bureaucracies—creating a system much like the one contemplated by Obamacare, as it happens. But at the same time, we’ll be told Obamacare itself is a failure because it involves the government in guarteeing heath care. And where conservatives speak to each other quietly, it will be understood that Medicare is subject to the same complaints and deserves the same fate.

This will never be fully settled, I'm afraid. There's something about sick people being able to get the care they need that offends conservatives. It's just a fundamental belief on their parts and they'll fight it forever.

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