Paul Krugman’s recent column on the successful approach to health care practiced by the Veterans Health Administration (V.H.A.) and candidate Mitt Romney’s “vouchers for veterans” proposal is worth a read. Calling the GOP “thing about vouchers” strictly about ideology… so “successful programs like veterans’ health, Social Security and Medicare are in the crosshairs” – he notes:
What’s behind this success? Crucially, the V.H.A. is an integrated system, which provides health care as well as paying for it. So it’s free from the perverse incentives created when doctors and hospitals profit from expensive tests and procedures, whether or not those procedures actually make medical sense. And because V.H.A. patients are in it for the long term, the agency has a stronger incentive to invest in prevention than private insurers, many of whose customers move on after a few years.
And yes, this is “socialized medicine” — although some private systems, like Kaiser Permanente, share many of the V.H.A.’s virtues. But it works — and suggests what it will take to solve the troubles of U.S. health care more broadly.
Link to the article here at nytimes.com.