During the Iraq war, Republicans accused Americans who criticized George W. Bush of not supporting the troops and frequently of being unpatriotic. The truth is that in a rush to war, the Bush administration failed to provide adequate support for our brave soldiers whether it was inadequate body armor, insufficient meals, or poorly armored vehicles. At least a veteran could count on good health care after their enlistment was finished although it took a major overhaul during the Clinton administration to guarantee high quality care and success at controlling costs to the point that the Veterans Health Administration (V.H.A.) offers better care than most Americans receive from private insurance carriers.
The V.H.A. is a “policy success story“ because besides good health care for veterans over a lifetime, it is absent the perverse incentive-based system that rewards physicians and hospitals for subjecting participants to prohibitively expensive and often unnecessary testing and procedures that are in part responsible for the perpetually rising cost of private health insurance. It also encourages preventative measures private insurance avoids because veterans are in the program over their lifetime. The program works well and should be a model for all health care providers, but in keeping with their record of eliminating proven successful programs, Republicans, in particular Willard M. Romney, has designs on privatizing the Veterans Health Administration.
Although Willard did not specifically call his plan privatization, it is exactly like the Heritage Foundation’s Medicare voucher system proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan. The truth about both voucher system plans is that they are scams to send taxpayer dollars meant to provide good health care for veterans into private insurance companies. Romney’s claim is that giving veterans vouchers to buy private health insurance will lower costs because the private sector is competitive. There is one small problem with Willard’s privatization scam and it is that private sector competition does not exist. Any American who buys their own private (or group) health insurance coverage has experienced huge increases in premiums for no apparent reason other than to maximize profits with less coverage. Part of the private sector’s premium increases are because there are huge administrative expenses inherent with private companies, but because they are private, they fit into the “free market capitalism” meme Republicans are in love with.
The conservative obsession with privatizing the government is at the heart of Romney’s (and all Republicans) motivation and fits in with their fallacious contention that the private sector is inherently superior to any government program. The problem for Republicans is that they are wrong and there is sufficient evidence to prove that government programs like Medicare, Social Security, and the V.H.A. have worked extremely well for their beneficiaries, and it drives Republicans crazy they cannot take taxpayer dollars that fund those programs and hand them to the private sector; especially Wall Street, the insurance industry, and for-profit corporations.
There is ample evidence, now, that Republicans target government programs that work well because they are living proof that conservative ideology is absolutely wrong. Of course, evidence in the form of measurable data is one of those areas Republicans are ill-equipped to acknowledge or accept; especially when the evidence proves government programs save money and help Americans. So far this year, Republicans have assailed retired and disabled Americans who depend on Medicare for their sole source of health care by proposing a voucher system that will not buy an equal amount of coverage in the private sector. Now, it appears Republicans are out to cheat veterans by giving them a voucher that will not be sufficient to buy equivalent health care coverage they receive from the V.H.A., but it will shift taxpayer dollars away from the successful government program directly to the private sector that has no incentive to control costs or offer the best possible service for veterans who served their country.
Besides cheating veterans, Republicans are hell-bent on privatizing the entire government to reward corporations and wealthy campaign donors with more of Americans’ tax dollars. If Republicans who promoted the meme of “support our troops” really want to support the troops after they served, they would never consider privatizing a successful, high-quality health care delivery system, and therein is one of the Republican’s primary problems. Republicans are persistent in claiming the private sector is less expensive than any government program because of competitive pricing, but their argument falls short on every level. For example, Medicare is a single-payer system that performs well and participants are generally happy with the care they receive for the small premiums they pay. Paul Krugman points out that Medicare Advantage, the program that “allows Medicare beneficiaries to buy private insurance instead of having Medicare pay bills directly, has consistently had higher costs than the traditional program.” Higher costs invariably translate to higher premiums and the higher the premiums, the more profits Republicans give to the insurance industry. Unfortunately, veterans, like retired Americans, are left with more out-of-pocket expense for less quality health care coverage and all the while, Americans’ tax dollars get sent directly to the private sector to enrich corporations.
Republicans have made it their goal to eliminate all government programs and replace them with privately owned and operated corporate entities. The V.H.A. is an integrated health care system that, as Krugman points out, “is the most efficient health care system” followed by single-payer systems like Medicare, and both outperform any private system in controlling costs while providing high-quality health care. Social Security, Medicare, and the V.H.A. belie Republican claims that private sector systems are superior to any government programs and instead of strengthening those systems, they intend on destroying them like a criminal destroys incriminating evidence showing their guilt. However, there are millions of Americans who know Social Security, Medicare, and the V.H.A. perform well or else there would not be opposition to privatizing those government programs.
It is sad that Republicans have contempt for elderly, disabled, and retired Americans, but their assault on veterans takes their contempt to a whole new level. They have no concept of decency or the basic ability to admit there are many government programs that outperform the private sector and instead of supporting successful programs that give a higher quality of service, they are attempting to destroy them. It shows the conservative’s intense hate for Americans, the government, and now veterans that only Republicans are capable of and the people should be furious. Americans have rejected and opposed every Republican attempt to privatize Medicare and Social Security, and when news that Willard Romney intends on destroying the V.H.A. and replacing it with another Heritage Foundation privatization scam, they will be livid.
Republicans fail to understand that Americans do support the troops; especially veterans, and the notion of cheating them out of the benefits they earned serving their country will add to the rising opposition and contempt for Republicans who will take any approach to enrich the wealthy and their corporations. Willard M. Romney, in particular, has shown Republican willingness to steal taxpayer dollars and hand them over to the wealthy in order to eliminate the government, and if retired and disabled Americans suffer, that is an extra benefit for conservatives. Now they are expanding their privately owned-and-operated government plan to include depriving veterans from receiving high-quality health care and it goes to show there is no group of Americans the Republicans will not punish because their ideology of private sector superiority fails. There are myriad reasons to despise conservative ideology and Republicans in particular, but they may have reached a zenith of contempt by attempting to privatize the Veterans Health Administration and it demonstrates that Republicans really do not support the troops any more than they support the American people or the government.