When James noted that the wingnut spin on this debacle is "this proves the government can't run health care," M@ noted that the reality is quite the opposite. The short-term culprit here is privatized services, run for profit, through contracts handed out by patronage. The federal government is being run like Boss Tweed New York, but now tax cuts are handed out instead of turkeys.
Some bloggers who've teased out the whole IAP/Walter Reed/Weightman story are Liberal Avenger and Unbossed. I recommend reading both those great posts.
Paul Krugman addressed the larger issue in a recent column, brought to you by the good folks at truthout.
When Salon, the online magazine, reported on mistreatment of veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center two years ago, officials simply denied that there were any problems. And they initially tried to brush off last month's exposé in The Washington Post.Read Krugman's column here.
But this time, with President Bush's approval at 29 percent, Democrats in control of Congress, and Donald Rumsfeld no longer defense secretary - Robert Gates, his successor, appears genuinely distressed at the situation - the whitewash didn't stick.
Yet even now it's not clear whether the public will be told the full story, which is that the horrors of Walter Reed's outpatient unit are no aberration [emphasis mine]. For all its cries of "support the troops," the Bush administration has treated veterans' medical care the same way it treats everything else: nickel-and-diming the needy, protecting the incompetent and privatizing everything it can.
What makes this a particular shame is that in the Clinton years, veterans' health care - like the Federal Emergency Management Agency - became a shining example of how good leadership can revitalize a troubled government program. By the early years of this decade the Veterans Health Administration was, by many measures, providing the highest-quality health care in America. (It probably still is: Walter Reed is a military facility, not run by the V.H.A.)
But as with FEMA, the Bush administration has done all it can to undermine that achievement. And the Walter Reed scandal is another Hurricane Katrina: the moment when the administration's misgovernment became obvious to everyone.
The problem starts with money.