The Veterans Administration health care scandal is now mainstream news. For good discussions of how corruption within the government-run health system has harmed American veterans (and potentially led to scores of patient deaths), see these summaries by David Catron, Michael Tanner, and Mark Tapscott.

Yet this has not fazed advocates of a government “single-payer” system. According to Kaiser Health News, the VA health scandal isn’t relevant to their cause because “the VA system is fully government-run, and not the same as single-payer, where doctors and hospitals would remain private, with payment from the government.”

But this is a distinction without a difference.

The federal government sets the budget for the VA, determines which doctors can work for them, and ultimately controls what care patients may receive. Except for cosmetic differences, the same applies to any single-payer system. Even if doctors remain nominally private under single-payer, he who pays the piper calls the tune.

If American veterans can’t trust the federal government with their medical care, why should the rest of us?