Another reason why the last thing you should want is complete government-run healthcare

Thursday, March 03, 2016 by

(BigGovernment.news) Supporters of the Veterans Administration say the nation’s largest healthcare conglomerate isn’t getting a fair shake in the media. They say that for the most part, the VA provides quality healthcare to the nation’s veterans and that customer service is generally.

But then, stories like this make the news. As Reuters reported recently:

U.S. Republican Senator Rob Portman on Wednesday asked an independent watchdog to look into “deeply disturbing” allegations of poor care and conflicts of interest at a Veterans Affairs hospital in his home state of Ohio. 

The allegations are the latest problem for a scandal-plagued agency that has become a punching bag in the Nov. 8 presidential election campaign, particularly for Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

In a letter to the department’s Inspector General, Portman urged a “swift and independent” probe after a report showed 34 current and former employees had blown the whistle about problems at the VA hospital in Cincinnati.

Donald Trump’s posturing aside, Portman went on to provide details to the VA leadership. He and other lawmakers were responding to an investigative report published on Tuesday by Scripps’ Washington bureau and WCPO, the ABC affiliate in Cincinnati.

According to the report, surgeries and specialist care at the hospital, which has a patient load of some 40,000 vets, had been cut to save money. The report described instances where surgical instruments were sent to operating rooms still contaminated with blood and bits of bone debris from previous operations.

Outrageous, if true? You bet it is. But should we be surprised? In a word, no.

What the VA represents is Obamacare writ large; that is, the next “phase,” if you will, for the big government nannies in Washington is to hijack completely the entire U.S. healthcare system and turn it into one big VA – one massive federal healthcare delivery system, all “paid for” with taxes via Medicare. And if that ever happens, stories like the one above will become so commonplace they’ll rarely even make the news any longer.

Here’s why.

Consider that the British people, by and large, like their healthcare system, which is taxpayer-supported for the most part and run completely by the government. But that’s because they have accepted some truths and realities about it: That it cannot possibly cover everyone for everything, and that’s okay because it covers most people for most things. It is simply too expensive for the British system to operate in the former, so by necessity it must operate in the latter.

Would Americans accept that lower standard, because that’s what we’d get, as evidenced by the VA story above.

Like every government agency the VA operates each year on a budget, and when costs exceed budgetary allocations, then something has to be cut – personnel, medical services, equipment, etc. There’s just no other way to meet budgets; unlike private healthcare facilities that also operate under budgets but have more flexibility to allocate resources when necessary.

Trump and others are right when they insist that care of our veterans should never be done on the cheap or compromised – but care for all Americans should never be on the cheap or compromised, and it would be if the entire country was getting healthcare services from a budget-limited government hospital system.

Poor Americans know what we’re talking about. They, too, must often rely on local government-run health services for their care – services that are constantly under budgetary and financial strain.

Now, we can say, “Well, let’s just pay more taxes and allocate more resources towards the government-run system.” That is certainly one option – but what, historically, have government agencies done with more money? Have they become more efficient and have taxpayers gotten more for their money? Of course not; in the private sector there are incentives for healthcare centers to deliver better care to patient customers (like profit motives), but in a government-run system, there are no such incentives since they rely on tax revenues rather than fees for services to survive.

The problem with government-run anything is always the same: There is little motivation to build a better widget or deliver a better product or service, because such delivery does not rely on customer satisfaction in order to thrive. The VA is no different.

This is not to say that health care professionals who care for our veterans are not dedicated, knowledgeable, hard-working people. But they are trapped in a system that is inflexible at best and rigidly conformist at worst. There is no budgetary wiggle room to deliver a better product.

And so, some of our vets suffer needlessly.

Portman and the other lawmakers’ hearts are probably in the right place on this one. But unless or until the VA is better monetized, not much is going to change. And historically, given the performance of most government agencies, even giving it more money isn’t likely to do the job, either.

The better answer is to get the government out of the healthcare delivery business altogether, give it back to the private sector where it should have always been, and cut/curb/eliminate ominous and expensive over-regulation of the healthcare industry. Prices will drop, the government (and taxpayers) will get a better product and our vets will receive better care consistently. Everyone wins.

The current president would never accept that as a solution, so this will have to wait for the next president. Let’s hope we elect someone who is ready to accept the reality of the inefficiencies and limitations of government-delivered anything and re-embrace the entrepreneurial spirit of American capitalism and free markets.

See also:

Reuters

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