That's your big federal bureaucracy, eh?
Excellent piece on the VA system from Wapo.
I've heard (and read) a fair amount about the great quality of the VA system, but this piece lays out key points quite effectively. What are said key points, you ask? Some pretty amazing statistics about the quality improvement of the VA system in 10 years, including:
• Since 1995 the number of patients has doubled to about 5.2 million. This is while over 12,000 staff were cut and the cost per patient was reduced by half.
• Amazing Health Information Technology (HIT) program with electronic patient records, including lab tests, prescriptions, and nifty scannable bracelets. (For anyone who takes more than two prescriptions, how great would it be to just be scanned rather than spell everything out every time you go! I'm psyched!)
• Performance typically better than the private sector -- check out these results "In 1990, before Baltimore began tracking its performance, rates of screening for breast and cervical cancer were 50 percent and 17 percent, respectively. In 2003, they were 88 percent and 87 percent." Let me tell you, 87% for cervical cancer is amazing by private practice standards.
And of course, the crowning glory on why we need single-payer care:
Medicare officials point out that the VA has the advantage of being an integrated delivery system -- that is, a health plan in which most of the doctors are salaried employees and all care is coordinated and tracked. In Medicare, physicians work for themselves and patients are free to pick and choose their services.
Exactly. Which is why Medicare (and Medicaid, for that matter) are sending the deficit sky-high, not to mention drowning in quality assurance and fee reimbursement quarrels.
So I guess my response to ginormous bureaucracy healthcare would have to be -- thank you government!