Shouldn’t the VA Be Eliminated?

If the Republicans are right and government-provided health care is a horrible evil that will destroy everything good about the country, why aren’t they clamoring to defund the VA, which is truly socialized medicine for military veterans? My senator asked Ted Cruz that very question:

“I’m wondering if your motion includes the full funding of the VA medical system, which is a completely government run, government controlled health care system,” Stabenow asked Cruz.

“I would readily support legislation fully funding the VA because the VA is a vital government system, it is a promise we have made and it is unrelated to Obamacare,” Cruz replied.

So let’s see if we understand this correctly. The Affordable Care Act, which provides subsidies for the poorest Americans to purchase private health insurance on the market, is “government control of health care” and “socialized medicine” that will destroy the economy and freedom and grandma too. But the VA, which is genuine socialized medicine, where the government owns the hospitals and clinics, pays the doctors and foots the entire bill, that’s a “vital government program.” But if Obamacare is such an evil thing for those who sign up for it, why isn’t actual socialized medicine an evil thing for veterans? What about the death panels and inevitable rationing? Funny how their arguments magically disappear.

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  • Who Knows?

    Well, it’s clear the tea bagger contingent know exactly what would happen if they stood against that little bit of socialism. A good number of the Tea bagger supporters are vets and it is not good to point out someone’s hypocrisy.

  • trucreep

    Holy shit, I can’t believe Stabenow is actually doing something…anything!

  • Alverant

    You’re assuming the teabaggers will recognize the VA as socialized medicine and not try to make some word salad excuse as to why it really isn’t.

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    Of course the VA should be shut down. It’s an abomination that encourages soldiers to be less vigilant against being blown up by IUDs because they know that their prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs will be paid for by Uncle Sucker.

  • peaches

    Isn’t the VA bogged down in paperwork and generally difficult to deal with? I thought Jon Stewart recently did a couple of shows highlighting the trouble some vets were having getting their benefits. So if Cruz et al were actually principled opponents of government-run health care they could point to the VA as a prime example of the problems they see on the horizon. But as Who Knows? Points out, they can’t do that because it will piss off their base. So here we are.

  • eric

    You’re assuming the teabaggers will recognize the VA as socialized medicine

    They recognize exactly what it is. They just don’t use a textbook definition of “socialized.” To them, “socialized” = “Democrat-supported.”

  • busterggi

    Its not just the VA, ever since the draft was abolished we’ve had a volunteer military – as volunteers they shouldn’t be getting paid and should provide their own weapons, uniforms, housing, etc. Damned commie military!

  • Alverant

    peaches, the VA is having a hard time because of funding cuts. Demand far exceeds supply and you can’t really expect any service to function like that.

  • daved

    being blown up by IUDs

    Now that would be an interesting way to go.

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    hehe I of course meant IED but didn’t proof read 😀

  • I just had a “sleep study” on Tuesday night. I had a colonscopy last month. I had physical therapy several times this summer. I have a consult with the “hand” guy at the hospital in Syracuse to see if they can fix what’s wrong with it. I get my meds, my checkups, my psych eval (I have to see the nice lady shrink every 3 or 4 months in order to get my Adderall scrip written). I get that stuff because I signed a contract when I was 18 to serve in the AF for 4 years. I had to get pretty damned poor to get on the roles (means testing) but, once there, I don’t pay for anything except transportation (if I drive my own vehicle or take public transportation) and indidentals like non-prescription meds.

    One of the very best things about the VA healthcare system is that you will not lose your house or your savings (within the limits of the means tests) because you have to have expensive procedures, meds or chronic care.

    Yes, the VA is not perfect. It is almost infinitely better than what I used to get, if for no other reason than the peace of mind I get from not worrying about whether I can afford healthcare.

    Fuck Cruz and fuck every single person who supports him and the rest of that cabal of asswipes.

  • Chiroptera

    Heh. One of the people I used to sit with in the coffee shop would regularly go on and on about how evil socialism was creeping up on us all, and before you know it we’d be just like the old Soviet Union. His rants would invariably be cut short as he had to leave to make his appointment at the VA clinic.

  • You don’t get it. War is more good than Socialism is bad.

    If these poor, lazy moochers want the Socialism that’s destroying our Freedom, they can join the army, like the millions of Patriots that love The Flag as much as they hate Socialism, and who are sent to fight and die to preserve the Right of other countries to be as messed up and hypocritical as we are, just as the Founding Fathers intended.

  • DonDueed

    peaches, the VA backlog has to do with claims for disability benefits, not the VA hospital system. As democommie points out, the latter is far from perfect, but it does provide health care services whose quality varies somewhat but is at least available to those vets who need it.

    sigurd, are you trying to take Modus’ job or something?

  • peaches

    Thanks for the clarifications all. I’m wasn’t trying to make the argument that the VA should be shut down. I’m simply fascinated by the corners the Tea Party had managed to back themselves into which results in a total inability to make any kind of coherent case for their own stated goals. It seems to me that Cruz’s defense of the VA has little or nothing to do with the issues raised in these comments and everything to do with pandering.

  • typecaster

    Holy shit, I can’t believe Stabenow is actually doing something…anything!

    She does, every now and then. Of course, sometimes it’s really awful shit like voting in favor of the Military Commissions Act, which ought to put her outside the bounds of polite society. I REALLY want her to get primaried from the civilized part of the electorate, since I find it nearly impossible to vote for her.

  • naturalcynic

    The major problem with the VA is getting into the system. There is a long backlog of paper that needs to be gone through [6-10 months worth in most places]. This problem is due to lack of foresight in computerizing forms and procedures with a lack of personnel. These nasty little wars increasing the customer base have overloaded the system. Once in the system, the care is comparable to many comprehensive medical insurance plans, however, the costs for medical care in the VA are far lower than the costs under any insurance plan. Because it’s like many universal single payer socialized systems.

  • Isn’t the VA bogged down in paperwork and generally difficult to deal with?

    You mean unlike the rest of our healthcare system, which is the very model of efficiency, consumer satisfaction, and universal access?

  • hunter

    Peaches @15:

    Cruz? Pandering? Whatever would make you think such a thing?

  • poxyhowzes

    Democommie @11:

    I doubt that there’s even one mission or sortie that you participated in while on active or reserve duty that I supported at the time or would support now.

    But, Ma’am or Sir, thank you for your service to the rest of us, and welcome to the small pittance that is carved out of my taxes to pay for improving and maintaining your wellness. I wish it could be adequate. I wish it could be more. I wish it were unnecessary.

    [The tax mention above on the assumption that Democommie and I are both USians]


  • Michael Heath

    trucreep writes:

    Holy shit, I can’t believe Stabenow is actually doing something…anything!

    Sen. Stabenow is a leader in developing and moving the farm bill through the Senate; that bill includes the food stamp program.

  • dogmeat


    Many of the problems with the VA system is related to the on-again, off-again, love-hate relationship Cruz’ predecessor Reptilicans had with it. During the 70s and 80s they gutted much of the funding because, to a certain degree, they were trying to forget those who fought in Vietnam. In the 80s, as they became the party that supported the military, as the defense budgets skyrocketed, they added a few pennies here and there to take care of some of those folks who needed VA services. In the 90s, especially after some of the Gulf War vets popped up with serious problems and some of the WWII folks started needing the services, it became harder and harder to hope the whole system went away while wildly waving the flag and telling everyone they could talk to about how the Republicans “supported the troops.” In the ’00s, again the defense budget skyrocketed, but the GOP actually got somewhat caught totally screwing over the veterans. Since then they plugged in a few pennies here and there as vets contacted them, etc., but the system is still woefully underfunded for it’s mission and the demand for its services.

    Problem for the Republicans is that we vets should die bravely in combat waving the flag and shouting “Republican to the day I die…Ack!” Many of us have the nerve to live and some of us, unfortunately, pay some serious long-term consequences for our service. Those of us who know how the system really works haven’t voted Republican in years, in some families, generations.

  • I’m quite certain that if we started calling soldiers “federal workers” and began calling their VA benefits “pensions”, then Republicans would be falling all over themselves to denounce them as parasites, cut their wages, and break the contracts that we’ve made with them. I am not entirely sure if this would be a good or bad thing.

  • jonhendry

    @democommie: “(I have to see the nice lady shrink every 3 or 4 months in order to get my Adderall scrip written”

    Wait, what? Not every month?

  • Area Man “I’m quite certain that if we started calling soldiers ‘federal workers’ and began calling their VA benefits ‘pensions’…”

    Why go through all that work? Just have Obama come out for the VA.

  • Rip Steakface

    My grandfather had a heart attack a few weeks ago, followed by quadruple bypass surgery week afterward. He was in the Air Force in the early 1960s (age reference: he’s 70, I’m 18). If it weren’t for the VA’s impressively high quality of care (at the public hospital, his food was practically inedible and his nurses had no idea how to perform anything related to peritoneal dialysis, which he needs), he wouldn’t be around right now.

    In addition, we’re currently working on getting a VA “caregiver stipend” for Vietnam-era veterans (he was honorably discharged prior to escalation in Vietnam), because he cannot live alone anymore, and we can’t afford to support him with just his Social Security and our own income. I don’t know the precise amount of the monthly stipend (it’s between $1500 and $2500), but with that, both him and us are able to move into a nice, big house where he can be taken care of by his family, not to mention where all five of us space-hogs can fit.

    I’m damn satisfied with what the VA has done for just my grandfather. If the terrible evil of socialized medicine is good enough for him, it’s good enough for all of us.

  • @24:

    I was diagnosed with ADD (and maybe a soupcon of the “H”, too) almost 20 years ago. I’ve taken three drugs, the only one that works at all is Adderall. My last PCP before I got into the VA system read my former PCP’s and 2 psychologists (I was re-diagnosed about 10 years ago) notes and decided that my request was reasonable and my mental state was such that the medication was indicated and did not require psychiatric evaluation.

    The VA does require the evals and will only give me one 10 mg dose per day. I was getting 3×15 mg per day from my civilian doctor and I could have him write the scrip but the VA’s price is zero, where the Wamart price is about $150 or more/month.

    The VA is not an ideal system but I think that it looks pretty much like what single payer would and I think it’s fine. Travelling to and from Syracuse, since my truck is currently inoperable, is a bit of a pain in the ass but them’s the breaks. I’m good with it.

  • Sorry about the double posting.

  • dingojack

    Demo – “My last PCP before I got into the VA system… ”

    ‘Well there’s ya problem!’ [/Adam Savage].

    🙂 Dingo

  • captain_spleen

    democommie @27:

    I was just asking because I have to get a written prescription for my methylphenidate every month, no refills, no multi-month prescriptions, no called-in prescriptions. I don’t need to have a face-to-face with a doctor about it, I just need to go out of my way to get the prescription. Which is a royal pain. As far as I’m aware, this is a requirement of all schedule 2 drugs, which I believe includes Adderall.

    I was diagnosed ADD in my junior year of college, about 20 years ago, based on the computerized TOVA test and a review of my K-12 report cards, among other things.

  • @30:

    I do NOT get multi-month prescriptions. I have to call the local clinic every month and TELL them that they need to write the scrip–all parties hate the process. One thing I have found interesting in dealing with the VA is that I can get low grade oxycodone (5/500’s) easier than Adderall–way easier. The VA, like many government orgs has a decidedly “Reefer Madness” thing about ampheatamines but, curiously, not about painkillers. Back in the 90’s I not only had to see a doctor every 3 months, I had to pay a shrink, $50 for about 5 minutes of his time to get the scrip written. I later lived with his ex and found out what a true piece-of-shit he was.