My recent letter (“Do veterans deserve socialist health care?” July 16) included such lines as “Let’s save our vets from big government and its socialized medical programs” and “Patriots! Tell the Veterans’ Administration no more funding.” Those comments, as well as the entire letter, were written tongue-in-cheek and not intended to be taken seriously. The letter had a point to make, but dismantling the Veterans Administration was not it—far from it.
The point of the sarcasm was to highlight, with similar exaggeration, the claims opponents of health-care reform are making in the media, on radio talk shows, and at the recent town hall meetings being held around the country.
They look to paint health-care reform with the well-worn epithets, “government-run health care” and “socialized medicine.” What they fail to mention is that one of the most successful health care systems in the United States is a government-run health-care program. It is the Veterans’ Health Administration (VHA).
Providing medical care, rehabilitation services, social service support, and psychiatric care to millions of veterans, the VHA is the nation’s largest integrated health-care system. And it enjoys the support of most, if not all Americans.
Could the VHA be improved? Like any large program, of course it could. Providing even greater access (clinics and hospitals) than it does now and expanding its psychiatric services would be two steps toward making the VHA a better program.
My point was to highlight what a well-run, government-administered health-care system can do. Opponents of health-care reform need only look to the VHA for a real success story. Then we could drop the exaggerations all around and work to craft a similarly successful system for all Americans.