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May 31. 2014 8:13PM

The VA's waits: It's the socialism, stupid

The Veterans Affairs scandal is one of mismanagement and callous disregard for fellow human beings. It also is an indictment of a system in which health care is delivered by government employees through government owned and operated facilities - better known as "socialized medicine."

The VA system is socialized medicine by definition. Even left-of-center journalist Ezra Klein, formerly of The Washington Post, defined it in precisely those terms in 2009 - when he used the VA to praise socialized medicine. In a socialized system, care is offered for "free" through an inefficient bureaucracy. A bureaucracy that offers "free" care and does not have to satisfy customers ultimately rations care.

The VA rationed care by making veterans wait months for it. Employees hid the long waits by creating off-record waiting lists. In Britain, the National Health Service also rations care by forcing long waits. The NHS's target wait time for patients is 18 weeks. In March, almost 3 million Britons were on waiting lists for elective procedures.

In Canada's single-payer system, patients wait an average of more than 18 weeks before getting treated by a specialist for elective procedures, according to a survey last year by the Fraser Institute.

In the United States, the average wait time to see a specialist is 18 days, according to a survey released in January by health care consulting firm Meritt Hawkins.

Socialist health care systems always ration care, usually by forcing long waits, sometimes by prioritizing resources so that patients with higher chances of survival are given top priority.

The VA system has been plagued by long waits for years - its own inspector general has compiled 18 reports in the last nine years detailing problems with wait times. This is not the system on which we want to model U.S. health care.


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