Sunday, June 8, 2014

Conservative Thoughts on the Veterans Administration Scandal

           There have been numerous reports recently across the Union of veterans being denied needed health care at Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals.  The backlog of veterans on waiting lists for care was reduced by fraudulent means by VA bureaucrats, including by the delay or even denial of health care, in some cases until veterans died.

            Those veterans who are fully disabled currently may receive care from private health care facilities of their choice and be reimbursed, but other veterans may only receive free care outside of the VA’s system of hospitals and clinics from military facilities or contracted hospitals, only if the needed care is not available at a VA facility.  The VA has long been excessively bureaucratic, especially since at least the 1970s, and its quality of care was not necessarily as good as civilian care, despite the good effort of some of the health care providers and bureaucrats in its employ.  Both the quality of care and the efficiency of the VA had improved over the years.  Nevertheless, the VA has proved why government-run health care – or government-run any other kind of industry – is a bad model, particularly when government has a monopoly, as in the case of health care for most veterans.  Indeed, a government monopoly is worse than a private sector one, as it stifles competition, whereas a private monopoly is at least potentially subject to competition. 

           The left portrays government as better than the private sector, because public servants are motivated by public good versus the private sector’s motivation of profit, which the liberals regard evil because it is based upon self-interest.  However, the VA scandal demonstrates that even individual public employees can be self-interested, even to the point of criminality.  It should have been obvious especially to the liberals in the Obama Administration who disdain the profit motive that the financial incentives it offered VA employees to clear up the backlog of veterans waiting for health care would encourage cheating, even by public servants , as these bureaucrats would thereby profit from their deception.  Indeed, because of human nature, there will always be at least some incompetence and scandal in government.  The private sector, even if only motivated by self-interest, has more incentive to do public good than a government monopoly and its staff.  

            Reimbursement for the use of the services of any private health care facility should be an option for all veterans.  Eliminating this government monopoly would improve health care for veterans by reducing their wait times.  The competition from the private sector, which is often of superior quality, would also improve the care rendered by the VA and make it more efficient in delivering that care.  

           As for the political aspect of this scandal, unlike some of the other scandals of the Obama Administration, the President and even his Cabinet Secretary for Veterans Affairs were likely not aware of what lower-level federal bureaucrats were doing, although better supervision might have discovered it sooner.  However, the Administration is nonetheless responsible, as the misdeeds were done under its management, which included offering the financial incentives.  Regardless of what administration is in power, the Democratic Party is responsible for scandals committed by federal bureaucrats that harm people, as it is the party of government that boasts of having created all these big-government federal programs to make people dependent on the federal government and grateful to the Democrats.  If it had not conceived of a government-run monopoly health care system in the first place, instead of reimbursing veterans for their health care, there would be no scandal and veterans would have likely received their needed health care in a much timelier manner, instead of suffering and dying because self-interested employees failed their duty to serve.  

           It is worth remembering that veterans, unlike other recipients of federal largess, have earned their health care benefits through their usually self-less service to the United States of America, often at great risk.  The health care of the veterans should be the priority, not preserving a government monopoly for political reasons or the interest of a protected class of bureaucrats.   

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