Matthew Dowd is a former strategist for the Bush/Cheney presidential campaign and current political analyst for ABC. Dowd is rumored to be considering a run for the United States Senate in Texas. Whether he challenges Ted Cruz for the GOP nomination or runs as an independent candidate in a race that will likely include Democrat Rep. Beto O’Rourke, remains to be seen.
However, judging from Dowd’s recent comments about health care, an independent run is more likely. Dowd recently came out for a single-payer healthcare system for the United States:
It is time in our country that leaders on both sides consider a single payer fix to healthcare. The system we have now is a mess.
— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) May 5, 2017
His idea is not that outrageous considering many people think single payer is inevitable after the Obamacare fiasco and it’s certainly something many people, particularly Democratic politicians, want. Dowd is certainly entitled to his view what’s the best course of action to take overhaul the United States health care system, but if he’s going to make the case, he better damned well find better justification than comparing it to the Veteran’s Administration healthcare system.
Dowd tweeted the following:
Again, people in medicare and at VA are much happier with their care and cost than people in private healthcare. Facts.
— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) May 6, 2017
I am fairly sure Dowd doesn’t know what the hell he speaks. It would be very easy for me to introduce Dowd to veteran friends of mine that will take issue with his view on happiness. I don’t have the faintest idea where he gets his “facts, ” and I cannot speak to his comments on Medicare, but if the VA is going to be the benchmark for a full-blown single-payer system in the United States, we’re in for a world of hurt.
Dowd has a unique take on what it means to be happy with a healthcare system, but I can tell you that my experience with the VA when my father was ill made me want to strangle people to death. Living in New Jersey, the VA facility my dad stayed in is located in East Orange, NJ. If you’ve ever wondered why zombie and horror movies take place in hospitals, spend some time at the East Orange VA Hospital, and you’ll understand. Hospitals aren’t much fun to visit (except when babies are born), and I assure you the VA in East Orange is far worse. My experiences are anecdotal, but I am sure there are many veterans who’d sit down with Matthew and tell them of their experiences.
Polls don’t back up Dowd’s claim. 55% of veterans say it’s hard to get care.
Also, we can remind Matthew of the fact that veterans died awaiting care:
Hundreds of thousands of veterans listed in the Department of Veterans Affairs enrollment system died before their applications for care were processed, according to a report issued Wednesday.
The VA’s inspector general found that out of about 800,000 records stalled in the agency’s system for managing health care enrollment, there were more than 307,000 records that belonged to veterans who had died months or years in the past. The inspector general said due to limitations in the system’s data, the number of records did not necessarily represent veterans actively seeking enrollment in VA health care.
In a response to a request by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs’ to investigate a whistleblower’s allegations of mismanagement at the VA’s Health Eligibility Center, the inspector general also found VA staffers incorrectly marked unprocessed applications and may have deleted 10,000 or more records in the last five years.
In one case, a veteran who applied for VA care in 1998 was placed in “pending” status for 14 years. Another veteran who passed away in 1988 was found to have an unprocessed record lingering in 2014, the investigation found.
If the VA system served patients correctly, administrators wouldn’t cook the books on wait times, but they did:
Supervisors instructed employees to falsify patient wait times at Veterans Affairs’ medical facilities in at least seven states, according to a USA TODAY analysis of more than 70 investigation reports released in recent weeks.
Overall, those reports — released after multiple inquiries and a Freedom of Information Act request — reveal for the first time specifics of widespread scheduling manipulation.
Employees at 40 VA medical facilities in 19 states and Puerto Rico regularly “zeroed out” veteran wait times, the analysis shows. In some cases, investigators found manipulation had been going on for as long as a decade. In others, it had been just a few years.
It would be easy to turn the VA problems into a partisan issue, but that’s an easy way to avoid the problem which is systemic. That raises serious questions about the viability of a single-payer system serving hundreds of millions of people. The government operates as a textbook case of inefficiency, waste, fraud and abuse. Accountability is rare and more often than not people say the problems are caused by not having enough money to spend.
If people want to float the idea of a single-payer system, it should start with a far higher benchmark than the VA. Dowd should know better.