Dan Kennedy

On Sunday’s “Face The Nation” on CBS, Howard Dean, doctor, former Vermont Governor, former head of the DNC, stated that the Veterans Administration’s health care system is, in fact, a socialist system. Yes, he said that. And he praised it as the best, most effective health care provider in all the world.

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The show’s host didn’t comment on this characterization of the VA as socialist, and Dean went on to point to Medicare as a single payer system, and praised it as well. This was his argument for the public option, and the certain path to government run health care as only option.

I have a friend currently dealing with the VA. He finds Dean’s assertion that it is the best health care provider laughable – except to him personally at the moment, it’s not very funny. He has been told by his doctor he is in serious and urgent need of as yet uncertain heart disease treatment – perhaps catheterization, perhaps surgery, maybe a stent. And he is waiting two, maybe three weeks for the required stress test and possibly other tests. To be followed by at least a week waiting for results and follow-up appointment.

The VA facility he was sent to is clearly over-burdened, under-staffed, un-clean and S-L-O-W. He’ll arrive for a 9:00 A.M. appointment, but be parked there for 4 hours, waiting.

It’s a look at the future.

And I wonder: has Dean conveniently forgotten the scandal over the disgraceful condition of VA facilities right there in Washington D.C., exposed by the media?  Perhaps he hasn’t noticed that privately funded, charitable organizations are needed to provide care and rehabilitative therapy and equipment for wounded veterans. Or maybe he’s unaware of the too-many veterans who need advocates and attorneys to fight for them, to get the care they need, and most certainly have earned. 

Dean may be right in calling it socialist, as surprising the admission may be. But praising it as the best? Well, I certainly think I’m getting better care from my private physicians, paid in part by my private insurance, than my friend is from the VA. Were I hosting “Face the Nation,” I think I’d have asked if Dean is getting his health care from the VA. Or if he’s ever even been in a VA facility. 

Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy is a serial entrepreneur and contributor to the Business & Media Institute.