With the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, the Republican malice machine has continued to spin at full strength. Whether or not Shinseki was a scapegoat, his departure will not satisfy the bloodlust of the GOP, nor cause them to defer attacks on President Obama long enough to actually help find solutions. However, their inbred negativity and hatred for Obama is causing them to misfire in ways that only further embarrass themselves.
In yet another right-wing assault on the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), the conservative opponents of health care have once again managed to mangle their message. Their intent has been to associate ObamaCare, which they viscerally despise despite its growing popularity, with the burgeoning scandal at the Veterans Administration.
From across the Tea Party frontier we can hear the outraged call of the Yellow Tailed Wingnut complaining that ObamaCare will doom us all to fates of suffering, death, and worse – Socialism! Their high-pitched squeal is recognizable and notable for its uniformity.
- Rush Limbaugh: If you want to know where we’re headed as a country with health care, take a look at the VA.
- Ann Coulter: We’re all going to be getting the same health care the vets are getting under ObamaCare.
- Gary Graham (Actor): If you like the way the VA is working … you’re gonna love ObamaCare.
- Jason Riley (Wall Street Journal): If you want to see where our nationalized health care system is headed, look at the VA system.
- Wayne Allyn Root (Fox News Contributor): With Obamacare as the law of the land, we are all veterans now.
- Phyllis Schlafly: [The VA is] A good window into the future of Obamacare
- Kimberly Guilfoyle (Fox News Host): This is really what the rest of you all are going to get: One big fat VA system in the form of Obamacare. [Note: This one was rated a "Pants On Fire" lie by PolitiFact]
To be sure, the VA is undergoing a difficult period, exacerbated by Republicans in Congress obstructing necessary funding and the added burden of hundreds of thousands of new veterans created by Bush’s wars. And there is no excuse for falsifying records in order to mask the problems. But even with the serious issues surfacing in the past few weeks, the VA is a highly regarded institution that serves the vast majority of its patients with compassion and competence.
A recent survey completed in 2013 for the independent American Customer Satisfaction Index (during the precise time period when the latest abuses allegedly occurred) reported that customer satisfaction among veteran patients was “among the best in the nation and equal to or better than ratings for private sector hospitals.” Ratings for satisfaction and loyalty were overwhelmingly positive, exceeding 80% and 90% respectively. And specific responses regarding quality of care were off-the-charts positive.
“Veterans also responded positively to questions related to customer service for both VA inpatient care (92 percent favorable) and outpatient care (91 percent). Medical providers and appointment personnel were considered highly courteous with scores of 92 and 91, respectively. Additionally, VA medical providers ranked high in professionalism (90 percent positive).”
The positive assessment of the VA’s overall performance, however, does not mean that problems should be ignored. There is obviously room for improvement. Unfortunately, Republicans are not interested in improvement. In fact, they are ideologically shackled to failure. Their whole political philosophy revolves around the belief that government is inept and incapable of doing anything worthwhile (except wage war). Consequently, their mission is to deliberately sabotage every government initiative they encounter.
They aspire to failure because it proves their thesis that the only thing government excels at is failing. And it may even explain why the VA scandal is almost exclusively confined to red states like Arizona, Florida, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Is it just a coincidence that all of those GOP-led states, where local managers are responsible for the VA’s operations, are battling inefficiency and fraud? Or is it consistent with the Republican agenda that is also obstructing the Medicaid expansion provided by ObamaCare in many of those same states?
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Still, with broad-based, national survey results delivering such positive assessments, the rest of the country would be overjoyed to receive the sort of care that has pleased the vast majority of veterans. And if, as the wingnut brigade above asserts, the VA represents the future of health care under ObamaCare, then America is in for a real improvement in both medical outcomes and experiences. We can only hope that the Limbaughs and Coulters of the world are right this time, for a change.