So it turns out that President Obama—that whip-smart guy who is so super-curious about everything (unlike that quitter-snowbilly former Gov. Sarah Palin amirite?)—apparently had no idea that his administration was letting veterans croak while on waiting lists for care at Veterans Affairs (V.A.) facilities. At the very least, his people knew about the waiting-list problems, including inaccurate reporting on treatment times, back in 2008.

You remember the Fast and Furious gun-walking snafu? He read about that in the papers. Same thing with NSA surveillance. And it took him a few days to realize that the Obamacare website was tripping balls but he finally started to get news reports about it after a few days. And needless to say, he didn’t have any idea that the IRS—his IRS—was targeting Tea Party groups until he read about in the papers…

If Barack Obama wants to play Chauncey Gardiner and basically act as if he has frickin’ idea of what’s going around in his White House, that’s fine by me.

But will his erstwhile defenders at least admit that either he is a know-it-all who is full of B.S. when he pleads ignorance or that he just has no clue about what’s taking place in this City on a Hill already? It’s not flattering to him whichever way you want to go. But at least it’ll be consistent.

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As controversy swirls around the Veterans Administration over deaths caused by delayed care, an investigation by the Dayton Daily News found that the VA settled many cases that appear to be related to delays in treatment.

A database of paid claims by the VA since 2001 includes 167 in which the words “delay in treatment” is used in the description. The VA paid out a total of $36.4 million to settle those claims, either voluntarily or as part of a court action.

The VA has admitted that 23 people have died because of delayed care, and is facing accusations that hospital administrators are gaming the system to conceal wait times, including using a “secret list” at the VA in Phoenix…

The number of dead veterans could total more than 1,100 from 2001 through the first half of 2013 — including 16 at the Dayton VA Medical Center and 11 at the Cincinnati VA — according to records obtained via Freedom of Information Act.

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Here’s what Carney said at the White House briefing: “The American Legion said that the group looks at Petzel’s resignation as a, quote, step towards addressing the leadership problem at the VA. So I think that undercuts the assertion that that is not a meaningful development.”

Carney went on to cite the American Legion nine times during the briefing.

In fact, the American Legion put out a statement on Friday about Dr. Petzel’s resignation saying almost exactly the opposite of what Carney suggested.

“This move by VA is not a corrective action, but a continuation of business as usual,” American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger said in a statement. “Dr. Petzel was already scheduled to retire this year, so his resignation now really won’t make that much of a difference.”

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Like all single-payer health systems around the world, the VA controls costs by imposing a “global budget” — a limit to how much it can spend on care. Thus year-to-year funding varies according to the whims of Congress, not according to what consumers want or are willing to spend.

With tens of thousands of wounded soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the demand for care is rising dramatically. Enrollment in VA services has increased by 13% from 2007 to 2012. Despite a 76% increase in expenditures ($24 billion) over that period, the program still suffers from chronic budget problems. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it would require as much as a 75% increase in inflation-adjusted funding for the VA to treat all veterans.

When resources can’t meet demand in a given year, the VA does what other single-payer systems do: It rations

As the federal government takes over more and more of the healthcare system, there should be a lesson for us. Simply promising more healthcare does not mean delivering more healthcare. And government healthcare systems have a very poor record of delivering what they promise.

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There’s a lot to be mad about at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute notes that more than 344,000 claims for veterans’ care are backed up and waiting to be processed. It takes an average of 160 days for a veteran to be approved for health benefits, and the VA itself estimates that is has an error rate of at least 9 percent in processing claims. According to VA figures for 2012, as reported by the Washington Post, “a veteran who takes an appeal through all available administrative steps faces an average wait of 1,598 days.” That’s more than four years of waiting…

But, if the experience of other countries is any guide, a single-payer health-care plan or even government-managed care brings all kinds of waiting lists with it. In 2012, it was discovered that more than 7,000 patients in just a few Scottish hospitals had been wrongly removed from waiting lists for surgery in order to pretend to meet government targets for treatment. One trick was offering to perform surgery on a date when hospital officials knew a patient would be away on holiday, then dropping the patient from the wait list for “refusing” the date…

No one is suggesting that such scandals are widespread in the general health-care system. But they should serve as a warning sign of what could happen as the pressure to ration, inherent in all government-managed health care, is applied to the general population.

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Republicans are on firm ideological ground when they argue that the ACA is a step toward VA-style government-administered health care. They need only cite Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) who has said in the past that the ACA is a “step in the right direction” toward a health care delivery system that did away with insurance, a la single payer. Obama, too, has implied that the ACA should be viewed as part of an incremental adoption of the single payer system of which he is “a proponent.”…

Republicans will be accused of politicizing the outrageous claims about the VA’s treatment of vets. Good. Not only should Republicans make the VA’s problems a campaign issue, they should ignore the disingenuous scolds who will emerge from the woodwork to chide Republicans for daring to criticize the intolerable conditions America’s vets face.

Political pressure is the only way major reforms are adopted in Washington and bureaucracies shrink. The VA’s scandalous and endemic problems are worthy of politicization

When Reagan finally convinced Congress to elevate the position the VA secretary to the Cabinet in 1988, it came as something of a consolation prize. Reagan had tried, unsuccessfully, to force a Democrat-dominated Congress to privatize much of the care that Vets were receiving. Several decades later, and with the career-killing specter of the ACA hanging over many Democrats’ heads, Reagan may finally convince his political opponents to moderate their hostility toward his vision for the VA.

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Via RCP.

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Via the Daily Rushbo.