As a scandal involving long delays at Veterans Affairs hospitals mounts, it’s worth recalling that liberals have long touted the socialized medical system as evidence that government-run health care can work.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has penned several valentines to the Veterans Health Administration over the years. In a 2006 column, Krugman argued that the system was, “one of the best-kept secrets in the American policy debate.”
He explained, “pundits and policy makers don’t talk about the veterans’ system because they can’t handle the cognitive dissonance. … For the lesson of the V.H.A.’s success story — that a government agency can deliver better care at lower cost than the private sector — runs completely counter to the pro-privatization, anti-government conventional wisdom that dominates today’s Washington.”
In 2011, Krugman wrote a column blasting Mitt Romney after the Republican presidential candidate called for partially privatizing the system. “What Mr. Romney and everyone else should know is that the V.H.A. is a huge policy success story, which offers important lessons for future health reform,” he wrote.