Veteran Health Care: Is Privatization the Cause or the Solution?

When we noted the debate as to funding for veteran medical care, we should have noted this from Paul Krugman:

It’s important to understand these numbers, in order to react to the inevitable right-wing attempt to spin the Walter Reed scandal: predictably, they’re claiming that the problems at Walter Reed show the evils of “socialized medicine.” Um, no: they show what happens when a government that doesn’t care starves veterans’ health care of resources even as its war places huge new demands on the system, and then makes things even worse through cronyism and privatization.

It does seem that Nobel-Prize winner Dr. Michelle Malkin blames socialized medicine and offers this solution:

Will the Bush-bashers join with free-market critics to effect real change and help the troops who need and deserve better care?

John Amato argues that Walter Reed was already on the path to privatization. Since neither John nor Michelle are economists, let’s turn the microphone over to Max Sawicky:

In practice anything is subject to privatization and can be done well, or badly, either privatized or not. The problem lies more in whether privatization is carried out to save money – that’s usually the justification – and in the attitude of public sector overseers. For services that are hard to monitor, relatively speaking, private firms save money by reducing labor costs, which means less labor or labor of reduced qualifications (and cost). If the public sector lacks the inclination or resources to monitor contracts, you are going to get problems. When Republicans privatize, they are susceptible to the delusion that the service will deliver itself, so oversight is lacking. They are also reluctant to nourish the “acquisitions workforce” – Federal managers who make and monitor contracts.

All that’s left to add is that when one tries to run an invasion on the cheap, bad things are likely to happen.