“Liberal” is not necessarily a four letter word. It, at its base, is a belief that government should be involved in solving most every day problems.
Conservative, at its base, is a belief that most everyday problems should be solved by the private sector. All the rest of the bloviating on both sides is eye candy. The true liberal vs. conservative argument is about the limits of a government. Just as Socialism vs. Capitalism is an economic argument.
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The truth is that there are some problems which only a government can solve.
You would never want to create a mercenary defense force, as an example, because you could never insure their loyalty to a nation. Same thing for law enforcement. The biggest scandals in law enforcement happen when the enforcers become privateers. Would you really want General Electric running our court system? Or Xerox?
That said, government has little incentive to do something correctly and well for a long period of time; and that is what shows up in the Veterans Administration health system scandal.
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The VA healthcare system is a purely government-run healthcare system. It does not lack for resources. Its budget has TRIPLED since 2000.
It has an abundance of funding, an abundance of personnel, and a limited number of potential patients.
The statistics show that VA doctors nationwide see a significantly lower caseload than doctors in private practice, and also that the healthcare veterans eventually do get (if they don’t die waiting for it) is pretty good.
The problem is that it’s like handing your healthcare to the same people who brought you the post office–a government-run HMO in many respects.
And what’s worse, it is a showcase as to why Obamacare cannot work in the long term.
The private sector is not without sin, either.
Given the opportunity to sell the government a $900 hammer, ashtray, or toilet seat, very few companies will say they can do it cheaper—even though they may have those very same products off the shelf for sale for much less.
So do you really expect a health insurer—which has to make a profit—to not exhibit the worst characteristics of the private sector while working for the public sector under rules that give it no incentive to actually deliver an effective product?
As far as the VA goes, the fact is that the Obama administration ignored the problem until a whistleblower in Phoenix got the nation’s attention.
Then, the politicians did exactly what politicians always do when faced with a problem—they rearranged the deck chairs on the Titanic. Fire a few people and tell the taxpayers the new people are busy fixing things. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. They (the President and his minions) really don’t care.
The fact is that the VA Healthcare System was originally intended for service-related injuries and their long-term effects. Later, it became a safety net—for those vets who could no longer afford or have access to healthcare that was rising in cost.
Somewhere along the line, the august minds of the well-paid bureaucrats in government service decided that such services had to be delivered by government doctors in government buildings, as opposed to the lowest bidder.
And that’s where they got into trouble.
When my late father, a card carrying member of the greatest generation, mustered out of the United States Navy as an Electrician’s mate 2nd Class in 1946, he went off to start his career. First, he headed off to the University of Denver to become an electrical engineer. The VA had no problem sending DU a check for his education. Years later, he settled in Peoria, Illinois and bought a house. The VA had no trouble guaranteeing a loan at First Federal Savings and Loan.
The connecting thread was government money paying for a privately delivered service.
He never used the VA Health Service. Back in those days, healthcare was accessible and affordable. It was not necessary to turn to the VA.
As healthcare has become more expensive, the VA has become a primary care provider of last resort.
All of which should tell us that the Affordable Care Act is anything but.
It’s about time that we had the leadership in both parties in Washington retreat to their respective corners and come up with a better health care system for ALL Americans that embraces the best of the private sector and provides a safety net from the public sector.
This is one of those peculiar areas where it is NOT all about the money, no matter how much the worst of the private sector wishes it were; nor is it all about political expediency, in spite of the wishes of the left.
Until you can integrate the best part of an incentive–based private healthcare system with the legitimate needs of the nation as a whole, we’re building a system which—just like the VA system—will collapse under its own weight.
The only question is how many Americans will have to die first.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.