Sunday, May 4, 2014

40 U.S. Veterans die in Phoenix waiting to see a doctor

Interesting that folks like Paul Krugman and other defenders of the government Affordable Care Act point to the veterans’ health system as a prototype of the best health care in the United States. Krugman, writing a while back, said “The V.H.A. is a huge policy success story, which offers important lessons for future health reform.” But Krugman and others tend to ignore the failures of the same system. From CNN a few days ago was this item: 

“At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list. The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources. For six months, CNN has been reporting on extended delays in health care appointments suffered by veterans across the country and who died while waiting for appointments and care.”

We will never know if any of those 40 veterans would have lived if they had seen a doctor in a more timely manner but I would think that the odds are that some of them could have survived.

I am just pointing out what has happened in a long running U.S. government-run health care system where the data is available. Also, a large number of us have pointed to the government-run health care systems in Europe where similar problems have been reported.

I am sure that 40 dead is just a drop in the bucket and they may have died anyway but what will happen when the ACA kicks in full force? Will there be deaths because of wait time? It may be only a very small percentage of the people wanting to see a doctor, as it is with the Veterans Health Administration but what if one of those in that very, very small percentage is your father or mother, or your husband or wife, or your son or daughter?

Just asking?


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