Single payer: Why the VA scandal is a three-fer for the political class
I rarely quote the Fiscal Times, since it's the house organ of Pete Peterson, who wants to destroy Social Security, but in this case I'm breaking my rule:
The ongoing scandal at the Veterans Affairs Department has forced the idea of government-managed health care into the spotlight, with opponents pointing to the VA’s failures as an example of what could happen if the country were to adopt government run health care or a single payer insurance policy on a larger scale.
For years, liberals in support of single-payer have pointed to the VA as a model for what a larger system could look like. New York Times’ columnist Paul Krugman called the Veterans Affairs Department’s “success story one of the best-kept secrets in the American policy debate.” Krugman wrote in 2006, “The secret of its success is the fact that it's a universal, integrated system.”
[Allow me a moment to disinfect. There.] See what the legacy parties are doing here?
1) Both Republicans and Democrats get to point at the VA as an example of the horror of single payer. (Never mind single payer in Canada, which Canadians prefer, or government health care in Mexico, which Hispanics prefer).
2) In addition, the Republicans get to bash the Democrats -- especially the Demon King, Paul Krugman -- for their supposed support of single payer (support that's never been translated into actual legislation, unsurprisingly, given that both the administration and the career "progressives" who run interference for it have resolutely oppose single payer since at least 2009).
3) And the Democrats get to dole out some rent to the rentiers:
The Obama administration says it will allow more veterans to obtain health care at private hospitals and clinics in an effort to improve their treatment.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki also said VA facilities are enhancing capacity of their clinics so veterans can get care sooner. In cases where officials cannot expand capacity at VA centers, the Department of Veterans Affairs is "increasing the care we acquire in the community through non-VA care," Shinseki said.
I believe, though I can't prove right now, that this is an example of the privatization quadrille:
1) Underfund a government program;
2) Fund a public relations campaign and plant stories in the press about poor service (but never mention the underfunding);
3) Privatize the program;
This simple scheme is working with the NHS in the UK, I believe it's working with the Post Office here, and I'm sure readers can come up with other examples.
No underpants gnomes, these neoliberals!