Veterans Affairs 'Overhaul' Throws More Money at the Problem

The House voted 420-5 to pass what is being described as an overhaul of the Department of Veterans Affairs in the wake of the scandal surrounding inadequate patient care. Fox News offers some of the details:

The House vote came just one day after the Senate confirmed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald to lead the sprawling agency, which provides health care to nearly 9 million enrolled veterans and disability compensation to nearly 4 million veterans.

In order to be successful, McDonald "will need to take swift and decisive action to discipline employees responsible for mismanagement, negligence and corruption that harms veterans while taking bold steps to replace the department's culture of complacency with a climate of accountability," [Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla.] said.

The measure includes $10 billion in emergency spending to help veterans who can't get prompt appointments with VA doctors to obtain outside care; $5 billion to hire doctors, nurses and other medical staff; and about $1.5 billion to lease 27 new clinics across the country.

Lawmakers anticipate support for the measure in the Senate, even among fiscally conservative Tea Party members. That’s to be expected. Spending on veterans is one of the few areas of public policy where virtually everyone agrees that more is better. Politically, it’s a no-brainer which enables members to wave the flag back home.

That said, more money may not be the best solution to the VA problem, not in and of itself. At root, the VA stands plagued by the same handicap Obamacare will place upon all of us, government bureaucracy. If you really want to incentivize “swift and decisive action to discipline employees responsible for mismanagement” and “replace the department's culture of complacency with a climate of accountability,” then give it over to the market. The profit motive works better than any other to produce sustained quality and dependable efficiency.

To an extent, it sounds like this plan includes that with the “$10 billion in emergency spending to help veterans… obtain outside care.” But that appears to be plan B until the VA can grow its bureaucracy by leasing new clinics and hiring more staff.

Our veterans deserve the benefits they were promised, and they deserve quality care. The best way to provide that would be to transition away from government-run healthcare to grants utilized in a free market. In the era of Obamacare, that’s a pipe dream. But it remains a superior solution to lopping off a couple administrative heads and tossing dollars at the same corrupt system.

(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 11:46 minutes long; 11.35 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)