The Worst Available Care by Joel Zinberg, City Journal 6 June 2014

June 9, 2014 3:49 AM

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Liberal commentators long lauded the Veteran’s Administration (VA) health-care system as a model for the nation. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called it a “huge policy success” and “a real live case of impressive cost control in health care.” His colleague, Nicholas Kristof, gushed that the VA health system is, “one of the best-performing and most cost-effective elements in the American medical establishment.” And Phillip Longman, in his book Best Care Anywhere, touted the VA system as “the benchmark for quality medicine in the United States.” Now, the ongoing scandal about record falsification at Veteran’s Health Administration (VHA) hospitals has confirmed what most American physicians have long known—the system is irreparably broken.

These revelations are no surprise to any American physician who has worked at a VA hospital as a resident or medical student. Trainees encountered a Soviet-style bureaucracy more concerned with generating good numbers than with actually providing medical care. At the New York City-area VA hospital w...

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