Monday, March 05, 2007

Walter Reed is Military, Not VA

Associations of the horrible conditions and lack of oversight at Walter Reed Military Hospital with the Veterans Administration Hospital System are erroneous, points out Ezra Klein:
The VA system has made remarkable strides in the past decade, and is now the best hospital system in the nation, beating out such gold standard institutions as the Mayo and Cleveland Clinics. As Phil Longman writes, "A RAND Corporation study published in the The Annals of Internal Medicine concludes that the VA outperforms all other sectors of American health care in 294 measures of quality. In awarding the VA a top prize in 2006 for innovation in government, Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government gushed that "While the costs of healthcare continue to soar for most Americans, the VA is reducing costs, reducing errors, and becoming the model for what modern health care management and delivery should look like." The military hospitals, sadly, have not enjoyed the same rennaisance.
Some apologists for privatizing government functions are painting the problems with a broad brush across government-funded medical care in general. As has been pointed out, Walter Reed's problems seem to start with privatization; and perhaps the horrid treatment of soldiers might be traced back to the way the Department of Defense has been run for the past 6 years.

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