Don’t Use the VA Scandal to Derail Health Reform

Paul Krugman cautions that the Veterans Affairs scandal “could cause us to lose sight of a much bigger scandal: the almost surreal inefficiency and injustice of the American health care system as a whole. And it’s important to understand that the Veterans Affairs scandal, while real, is being hyped out of proportion by people whose real goal is to block reform of the larger system.”

“As you might guess, conservatives don’t like the observation that American health care performs worse than other countries’ systems because it relies too much on the private sector and the profit motive. So whenever someone points out the obvious, there is a chorus of denial, of attempts to claim that America does, too, offer better care. It turns out, however, that such claims invariably end up relying on zombie arguments — that is, arguments that have been proved wrong, should be dead, but keep shambling along because they serve a political purpose.”

“So here’s what you need to know: It’s still true that Veterans Affairs provides excellent care, at low cost … but Congress has provided neither clear guidelines on who is entitled to coverage, nor sufficient resources to cover all applicants.”

“A scandal is a scandal, and wrongdoing must be punished. But beware of people trying to use the veterans’ care scandal to derail health reform.”

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