March 02, 2007

Why all the attention on Walter Reed?

If all you knew was what you saw on teevee, you'd think the combination of terrible care at an outrageous cost is only a problem in a single hospital. In reality, of course, that's an accurate characterisation of our entire health care system in this country. The question we (and, in particular, the journalists amongst us) should be asking is not `How did Walter Reed get so bad, and stay so bad for so long?' (to paraphrase some guy who just said something on The News Hour), but instead `How did our entire health care system get so bad, and stay so bad for so long?'

Incidentally, Mark Shields is a lameass for not asking this question in The New Hour's followup segment on the Walter Reed story.

Of course, I already know the answers to both of my questions. The blame for Walter Reed can be laid squarely at the feet of the VAA, and fixing it is just a matter of replacing some bureaucrats, maybe closing the hospital down and doing some superficial reorganising and rebudgeting. It doesn't require the radical overhaul of the entire medical system.

And, more importantly, fixing Walter Reed doesn't require rich people to pay higher taxes. Which is directly related to the reason health care is so fucked up in the US today: for 25 years now, rich people have cared more about their money than the lives of poor people, and in our system, money is power.

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