Free Markets, Free People

Government Health Care – VA’s “Shoddy Standards … Put Veterans At Risk”

We had a little dust-up this week when I mentioned Ezra Klein’s propensity for government run health care and that he held the VA up as a shining example of what that can be.

Apparently it is a no-no among the crowd that follows Klein to include the government run military hospital system with the government run VA hospital system in a general critique of government run health care. And as is typical of drive-by commenters, they ignored the gist of the post to concentrate on pretending that two government run health care systems were not at all alike (because both have major problems).

So today, we’ll just talk about VA and the latest findings that support precisely what I said in the last post – VA has major systemic problems which are dangerous and, as Rep. Harry Mitchell,(D-AZ) who chairs the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations said:

“[T]here is no question that shoddy standards — systemic across the VA — put veterans at risk and dealt a blow to their trust in the VA,”

And then there’s the growing controversy over procedures that exposed 10,000 veterans to the AIDS and hepatitis viruses.

What have those interested in veteran care found when they looked at the system?

An official with the American Legion who visits and inspects VA health centers said complacency, poor funding and little oversight led to the violations that failed the cancer patients in Philadelphia and possibly infected 53 veterans with hepatitis and HIV from unsterilized equipment at three VA health centers in Florida, Tennessee and Georgia.

“Lack of inspections, lack of transparency” were likely to blame, said Joe Wilson, deputy director of the Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission for the American Legion, who testified before Congress this month on transparency problems in a budgeting arm of the VA.

What’s he talking about? Well apparently the VA is discovering standards and procedures that have been commonplace in the civilian health care system for decades. Remember the problem with endoscopic procedures in multiple locations which led to contamination?

But investigations conducted by the VA last month show that systemic problems remain. Under half of VA centers given surprise inspections had proper training and guidelines in place for common endoscopic procedures.

Many believe the state of the VA is due to chronic underfunding:

Richard Dodd, a litigator who has represented veterans in lawsuits against the government, said that poor funding has lowered the quality of care and interest from some physicians.

“They’re generally under-funded … and I think the interest of the doctors suffers to some degree,” he told FOXNews.com. “Generally speaking, the physicians that work at the VA work there because they have no interest in private health care, and in some situations are unable to find jobs in private industry.”

Of course “underfunded” is always the claimed “root cause” of any problems with government run entities, isn’t it? Take education, for instance.  But underfunding has little to do with procedural failures. That’s just flat bureaucratic incompetence. It is also a persistent problem for top down, bureaucratic systems like – government run health care.

VA Secretary Gen. Eric Shinseki and senior leadership “are conducting a top to bottom review of the Department,” a VA representative told FOXNews.com. “They are implementing aggressive actions to make sure the right policies and procedures are in place to protect our veterans and provide them with the quality health care they have earned.”

But, of course, Gen. Shinseki, for all his military competence, wouldn’t know a proper endoscopic procedure from a walnut tree. And, apparently, neither to those in the system who’ve overseen the present ones. Or said another way, confidence isn’t real high that an apparently inept bureaucracy can suddenly discover competence.

For example, something as simple as drug inventory:

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted an audit to determine how accurately the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) could account for inventories of non-controlled drugs at increased risk for waste and diversion in its health care facilities (facilities). VHA needs to improve its ability to account for non-controlled drugs to reduce the risk of waste and diversion. VHA cannot accurately account for its non-controlled drug inventories because it has neither implemented nor enforced sufficient controls to ensure pharmacy inventory practices are standardized and pharmacy data is accurate.

How can you tell me how “cost-effective” your pharmacy program has been when you don’t even know what your non-controlled drug inventories are and have never bothered to implement or enforce control over them?

Systemic problem.  But this is the shining example of government run health care according the Klein and others.  Underfunded, shoddy, overburdened, old facilities and equipment, a lack of transparancy and controls, insufficient training and poor procedures all driven by a top down bureaucracy.

Yeah, sign me up.

~McQ

[HT: Looker]

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10 Responses to Government Health Care – VA’s “Shoddy Standards … Put Veterans At Risk”

  • Even Baracky admitted that he wouldn’t use the crapcare he’s aiming to impose on us proles if his family got sick.

    Gee, what a shock.

  • What happened to our drive-bys? Haven’t received their talking points yet?

  • “Yes…the drums have gone….strangely silent….this can’t be good.”
    ” fetch my rifle!  panee loa!”

  • “Apparently it is a no-no among the crowd that follows Klein to include the government run military hospital system with the government run VA hospital system in a general critique of government run health care”

    Wrong. It is a no-no to use a government run military non-VA hospital as a refutation of the argument that VA is an example of good government health care. Which is what you did.

    What you wrote above is just more smokescreens, because apparently you are incapable of admitting to a small mistake and moving on with your point. If you would just stop pretending that you didn’t make a mistake, then people would probably be happy to move on to the “gist of the post”. Your stubborn refusal to make a correction is the sole reason for this meta-debate continuing.

  • Bicker all you want, but I can’t wait until all that those new gov’t. programs make me poor enough to qualify for VA care.

  • And why is it important what the title was? The context of the specific line in which your talk about Walter Reed is what is interesting here.

    It followed as a DIRECT repudiation of Ezra’s point about VA. It cannot logically be used for that. Perhaps YOU were talking about government run healtcare in general and not VA in specifically, but Ezra WAS talking about VA in specific. So your post was either logically flawed (making you the “slow one” for not seeing it) or factually flawed (making you dishonest for not admitting it). You can pick whichever one, but get out of the fact that it was flawed you cannot.

    Let’s take it ONE more time for the obviously super slow:

    “Klein held the VA system up as a shining example of good government health care. Of course that was before the shameful condition of Walter Reed had been discovered”

    You see how Klein has mentioned VA specifically? Not government run care in general – he may also like that, but that is not what he was saying and thus not what you are responding to. And your line about Walter Reed comes as a direct challenge to that point, so every thinking person will asssume that you are trying to repudiate his point about VA (otherwise your posts just reaches stunningly nonsensical heights).

    You cannot repudiate the point”VA works well” with “a non-VA hospital screwed up”. It just doesn’t work like that. Here are some ways in which your claims would NOT have been (as) embarrasing for you:

    * “Klein likes government health care. Of course that was before the shameful condition of Walter Reed had been discovered”.

    * “Klein held the VA system up as a shining example of good government health care. But the shameful condition of Walter Reed once again showed the inherent weaknesses in government care”.

    * “Klein held the VA system up as a shining example of good government health care. But of course it is just a matter of time before a VA-version Walter Reed will been discovered”.

    * “Klein held the VA system up as a shining example of good government health care. But as we have seen VA has had its share of scandals similar to what happened at Walter Reed, another government-run hospital”

    Any of these would have been at least somewhat logically coherent, and would have expressed your intent. I can only conclude that you would have chosen one of these, except if genuinely thought Walter Reed was a VA-hospital. Just don’t have the balls to admit a mistake, and your credibility suffers as a consequence.

    • What’s important about the title? Really? You have to ask?

      Both the system under which Walter Reed and the VA are managed are government run – thus the title. The fact that you and others cannot get that through your heads says all that needs to be said about your obsessive desire to make something of nothing and ignore the gist of the post.