And that sort of a backlog has Democrats worried. POLITICO brings us up to date:

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) is sounding the alarm this morning about a massive backlog within the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals. The 357,000-appeal clog delays providers from having their cases heard for longer than two years, McDermott noted in a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. ” “The agencies must review their administrative procedures and act now to protect seniors who are struggling to get Medicare payment appeals addressed,” he wrote. He argued that problems with recovery auditors have been identified as the leading cause of the backlog.

McDermott’s letter in full can be found here. This sort of a problem is also visible in another government run health care system. VA currently has almost 400,000 disability claims pending. It claims to be on track to erase that in 2015, but observers are skeptical of that claim.  While it claims to have shed 200,000 previously backloged claims, new claim backlog numbers continue to rise.

The fact is, both of these programs are bureaucratic nightmares. Reading McDermott’s letter (he is the ranking member on the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health), it is clear that the system in place is both inadequate and ineffective. It is also clear that it is subject to micro-managing by Congress, especially Democrats who are more and more worried about the impact of health care problems on their re-election prospects this November.

The bigger picture, however, is this is what “single payer” would look like, most likely at its best.  2 year waits for an appeal process.  As McDermott notes, that’s a long time for a system designed to care for the elderly.  Some may not survive the process and many are on fixed incomes.  That and the fact that providers shouldn’t have to wait that long for resolution either.  If it were a private insurance entity taking this time, they’d likely not be in business long as customers would endeavor to find a provider which was much more efficient in processing appeals.  That’s just a few of the benefits provided by incentive, competition and a profit motive.  Government bureaucracies, of course, aren’t motivated by any of those factors.  And this is the result.

Make no mistake, there are a large contingent of Democrats who would love to move us to a single payer system.  Fair warning – this is a mild example of what the party which can’t even build a functioning website in 2014 would inflict on the citizens of this country.

~McQ