Saturday, March 10, 2007

Nation's Health Care Crisis Hits the Military ... and GOP in the face

In a long post, Obsidian wings brings the on-going crisis in national health care into relief, against the backdrop of the GOP administered VHA. If it hadn't already, the GOP has lost the ability to run on running the government well, for a while, it would seem.

Based on some of my prior lookups ("You bet it's not just Walter Reed"), VA funding has been handled in the past as a non-defense discretionary part of the budget (there was a bill/movement to change that, but I don't think it passed the GOP controlled Congress - I could be mistaken). That, of course, is the part that most conservatives vote to "limit", even drastically.

Paul Krugman weighs in with the dope, in three parts, poor budgeting, poor execution, and calamitous labor market signalling:

The problem starts with money. The administration uses carefully cooked numbers to pretend that it has been generous to veterans, but the historical data contained in its own budget for fiscal 2008 tell the true story. The quagmire in Iraq has vastly increased the demands on the Veterans Administration, yet since 2001 federal outlays for veterans’ medical care have actually lagged behind overall national health spending.

To save money, the administration has been charging veterans for many formerly free services. For example, in 2005 Salon reported that some Walter Reed patients were forced to pay hundreds of dollars each month for their meals.

More important, the administration has broken longstanding promises of lifetime health care to those who defend our nation. Two months before the invasion of Iraq the V.H.A., which previously offered care to all veterans, introduced severe new restrictions on who is entitled to enroll in its health care system. ...
We know from Hurricane Katrina postmortems that one of the factors degrading FEMA’s effectiveness was the Bush administration’s relentless push to outsource and privatize disaster management, which demoralized government employees and drove away many of the agency’s most experienced professionals. It appears that the same thing has been happening to veterans’ care.

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