Democrats at 24 for 2020 presidential election

The Democrats are almost halfway towards a full deck of cards in the race for the 2020 presidential nomination.

Former Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak announced his plan to run for the nomination this weekend, for…reasons? Via Adm Joe’s (this is what he’s calling himself) campaign website:

What Americans most want today is someone who is accountable to them, above self, above party, above any special interest … a President who has the depth of global experience to restore America’s leadership in the world to protect our American Dream at home … and one who is trusted to restructure policies where too many see only the growth of inequity not of the economy.

I want to be that President who serves the American people the way they deserve to be served…

Now, the hour has become late to restore U.S. global leadership that convenes the world for two primary objectives that serve our collective well-being here at home: putting a brake on climate change and putting an end to an illiberal world order’s injustices, from China’s control of the 5G network to Russian interference in democratic elections.

However, we cannot meet the defining challenges of our time without a united America. This is our Hobson’s Choice: not just to win this Presidential election, but to heal our nation’s soul by regaining the trust of Americans – all Americans – by a President who the people know will remain accountable to them alone, no matter the cost to him.

Sestak said his campaign announcement is later than all the others because his daughter was fighting – and beating – brain cancer (congrats to her on her victory!). It just seems quite odd for Sestak to come into the nomination unless he’s seeking a position within some administration.

His key plank? Health care and his desire for a government-run system. Sestak is open and honest about his desire for a VA-style health system for the country.

I believe that the public option is one part of a transition of choice to a national healthcare system. Creating such a system will not be easy, but I believe our country can rise to the challenge. I know from my experiences visiting our wounded warriors at Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facilities across the country that a national healthcare system can work — indeed, it already exists for veterans. The VHA directly provides high-quality medical services to over 9 million people at some 1,250 facilities, employing over 300,000 healthcare professionals. It is the country’s largest integrated healthcare system, providing comprehensive care to its patients whether they walk in to a Vet Center in Fairbanks, Alaska, or a VA hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico. And it provides medical education and training to over 100,000 people every year, including more than 37,000 medical residents, or 30% of all residents trained across the country each year.

The 300K or so veterans who may have died while waiting for medical help from the VA were unavailable for comment.

It should also be pointed out the infusion of cash into the VA system still hasn’t solved the problem with wait times. The GAO reported last year there were still plenty of issues despite the new Veterans Choice Program.

[W]hen GAO analyzed 55 routine care authorizations that were created between January and April of 2016, it found that the process took at least 64 calendar days, on average. When VHA analyzed about 5,000 authorizations created between July and September of 2016, it took an average of 51 calendar days for veterans to receive care.

The issue wasn’t necessarily private health providers scheduling with veterans but the fact vets had to go through the VA to get a Third Party Administrator – the government only uses two contractors as TPA to find a private doctor.

GAO found that numerous factors adversely affected veterans’ access to care through the Choice Program. These factors include: (1) administrative burden caused by complexities of referral and appointment scheduling processes, (2) poor communication between VHA and its VAMCs, and (3) inadequacies in the networks of community providers established by the TPAs, including an insufficient number, mix, or geographic distribution of community providers. VA and VHA have taken numerous actions throughout the Choice Program’s operation that were intended to help address these factors, though not all access factors have been fully resolved. For example, to help address administrative burden and improve the process of coordinating veterans’ Choice Program care, VA established a secure e-mail system and a mechanism for TPAs and community providers to remotely access veterans’ VA electronic health records. However, these mechanisms only facilitate a one-way transfer of necessary information. They do not provide a means by which VAMCs or veterans can view the TPAs’ step-by-step progress in scheduling appointments or electronically receive medical documentation associated with Choice Program appointments.

Bureaucracy kills or at least makes it harder for people to get care, apparently.

This doesn’t appear to be an issue for Sestak who heaped an inordinate amount of praise on the work doctors did to help his daughter. A cynic would suggest his family got amazing treatment because he happens to be a retired Navy Admiral and a former congressman.

It really isn’t known what Adm Joe brings to the table in the race for the Democratic nomination except another body and a whole host of government-strengthening policy choices. He’s not really different than any other candidate who has already announced a run for the nomination.

At least he’s a retired Admiral, right?