Is there a message for Obamacare from the VA scandal ?

5/24/14
 
   < < Go Back
 

from The Gray Area:

In his column in TIME Magazine this week, VA Chief Eric Shinseki (Still) Must Go, Joe Klein makes a good case for new leadership at the Veterans Administration. He also cites very telling examples of total bureaucratic failure at the agency and says: “It’s past time to fix this shameful bureaucratic tragedy.” He then touches the broader issues of “bureaucratic stagnation” and lack of “government accountability”.

Mr. Klein has been a cheerleader for The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Mr. Obama’s signature achievement(?), since day one. So, it is curious that his concern for “bureaucratic stagnation” and lack of “government accountability” has not impacted his view of Obamacare as the government run solution to healthcare for the rest of us.

As many have noted since 2009, the chance of the government successfully running 1/6th of the US economy and life and death situations of 350 million individuals is less than zero! However, Mr. Klein and others just gloss over that issue as insignificant fear mongering. Clearly when the government fails so obviously and lives are possibly lost as they appear to have been at the VA, it is no longer insignificant fear mongering is it? Should we not expect the same management issues with healthcare under Obamacare? Why should we not?

“How do we change this situation”, Mr. Klein says? “The simple answer is leadership”. His definition of leadership is this: “An effective leader would have gone to Phoenix as soon as the scandal broke, expressed his outrage, held a town meeting for local VA outpatients and their families—dealt with their fury face-to-face—and let it be known that he was taking charge and heads were going to roll.” Really. That’s the definition of an effective leader? It certainly is part of the definition of an effective leader, to put him or herself in the forefront of the issue or scandal and let people know that it is his or her watch on which this problem happened and he or she will see that it is ethically and properly resolved. Yet, Mr. Klein further states; “Five years ago, Obama promised a unified electronic records system so that a soldier’s medical history would follow him or her seamlessly from active duty to the VA, but it still hasn’t been implemented because of trench warfare between the Pentagon and the VA. More than a billion dollars has been spent on the project.“… “The President … has been sadly ineffective on the veterans–health issue.” “The President could have solved this problem yesterday …” Therefore, the other part of effective leadership, seeing issues and solving them before they become serious problems has also been fumbled.

Talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh on Monday blasted the Veterans Administration as a “death panels being done on purpose” … “These people are special. These are soldiers. They’re special. They got wounded in action … defending this country …,” Limbaugh said. “Now we learn of these deaths by attrition, secret waiting lists, and … [p]eople on these lists assume that they’re being moved ahead of the line … that they’re going to really be taken care of. It’s simply unconscionable… At the very least what we’re dealing with here is a total inability to deal with this. And at worst it’s the death panel being done on purpose.” Curious thought. Opportunistic, political fear mongering? Or, a tough, but honest, question to ask?

The message of the VA scandal to Obamacare at this point, using Mr. Klein’s words: “bureaucratic stagnation” and lack of “government accountability” is systemic and leadership is “ineffective”. Therefore, other than costing trillions, not billions, of dollars, is it at all reasonable to expect a different result for Obamacare from the same organization and the same activity? Insanity!