Krugman on the VA but not on the VA Scandal

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With the VA scandal in the news, it is worth pointing out that the VA is a form of government health insurance – in fact, of socialized medicine, if you will. Thus, this scandal must be seen as a blemish on socialized medicine.

Who says so? Well, in a way, one of the principal defenders of government provided health care: Paul Krugman. In this column from the end of 2011, Krugman wrote:

Everyone . . . should know . . . that the V.H.A. is a huge policy success story, which offers important lessons for future health reform.

Multiple surveys have found the V.H.A. providing better care than most Americans receive, even as the agency has held cost increases well below those facing Medicare and private insurers. Furthermore, the V.H.A. has led the way in cost-saving innovation, especially the use of electronic medical records.

What’s behind this success? Crucially, the V.H.A. is an integrated system, which provides health care as well as paying for it.

And yes, this is “socialized medicine” . . . But it works — and suggests what it will take to solve the troubles of U.S. health care more broadly.

It’s literally a fundamental article of faith in the G.O.P. that the private sector is always better than the government, and no amount of evidence can shake that credo. In fact, it’s hard to avoid the sense that Republicans are especially eager to dismantle government programs that act as living demonstrations that their ideology is wrong.

It’s hard to make this stuff up. Perhaps Professor Krugman ought to explain to the world how his claims about the VA fit with the scandal. It is easy for those who believe in the markets to explain how government insurance leads to long lines and attempts to keep these secret.