A recent report from the VA Office of Inspector General found that 225 veterans died with open or pending consults in the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System between Oct. 1, 2015 and Aug. 9, 2016. The report also determined that 117 of these veterans died while experiencing delays in receiving healthcare.
The failures of the VA in providing adequate, timely healthcare to veterans are deeply concerning and seemingly endless. There are also countless scandals surrounding the department, including the 2014 meltdown which led to the resignation of then VA Secretary, Eric Shinseki. Scandals are almost a given for any government bureaucracy. However, the major difference here is that veterans are dying due to the gross negligence and incompetence of VA administrators.
It has been estimated that 307,000 veterans have died awaiting VA care over the years. An absolutely despicable number that is even more grotesque considering the department now has an annual budget of over $160 billion. In fact, the department’s budget has more than tripled over the past 15 years. The VA has proven time and again to be an absolute disgrace to those who have sacrificed so much for our nation.
The need to reform the VA is crystal clear, and the VA Accountability First Act of 2017 that was recently passed in the House of Representatives is a great first step. The bill allows for the termination, demotion, or suspension of VA employees based on performance or misconduct. A solution that is much more effective than sending more money to the department, as this simply perpetuates the incessant bureaucratic corruption. However, some level of corruption in a government bureaucracy is about as guaranteed as death and taxes, so there must be a greater solution. As Prager University explains, the solution is not more government, money, and bureaucracy; it’s more competition, accountability, and transparency that will truly help our veterans. A voucher system would allow veterans to choose the healthcare that best suits their needs, while creating competition between the VA and private healthcare providers.
The evidence overwhelmingly shows that the government is incapable of providing quality, timely healthcare to our veterans. It comes as no surprise that two-thirds of America’s veterans, 14 million people, do not use the VA at all. Even the veterans who do use the VA still get 75 percent of their healthcare outside of the system.
Perhaps most concerning is the recent healthcare debate in America involving many legislators arguing for single-payer universal healthcare. The fact is that the VA is a single-payer system, and the results have been catastrophic. The advocates of socialized healthcare know that the VA is failing, and therefore do not even attempt to use it to bolster their argument. Instead, they argue for “Medicare for all”. The future unfunded liabilities of Medicare alone are about $58 trillion, and that will only continue to increase. Medicare has many of the same issues as the VA with regard to inefficiency, delays, and low quality care. As is the case with VA, spending increases on Medicare have yielded no real benefits and many of the problems have been exacerbated.
The question of morality is crucial in the universal healthcare debate. The common argument of healthcare being a “basic human right” is nonsensical when put into practice. The idea that you can hold a doctor at gunpoint and force him to provide a service, or vote for politicians to do so, is the epitome of evil. You don’t have a right to somebody else’s labor, that’s called slavery or indentured servitude. Healthcare is not a right, nor is it a privilege; it’s a commodity. Furthermore, it’s a commodity with a finite supply. There are only so many doctors, hospitals, and funds available. The rationing of care that results from centralized government control is as conspicuous in healthcare as any other industry. Conversely, the free market does a much better job at managing limited resources and providing consumers with higher quality goods and services at lower costs.
The VA is proof that universal single-payer healthcare would be detrimental in the United States. Our veterans deserve better, and it’s about time that we hold the government accountable for the broken promises and horrifying mistreatment that our greatest heroes have been subject to for many years.
As economist Thomas Sowell once said, “It is amazing that people who think that we can not afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication, and a government bureaucracy to administer it.”