Topics: Obamacare

Examiner Editorial: Government-run health care could be the ultimate SNAFU

By |
Opinion,Editorial,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Veterans Affairs,Health Care,Max Baucus,Veterans,Healthcare.gov,Washington Examiner,Eric Shinseki

Former Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus likely had no idea how right he was last year when he warned then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius that, when he looked at Obamacare, “I just see a huge train wreck coming.” Obamacare has proven to be a slow-motion disaster and nobody knows when or even if it will ever stop. Considering Obamacare and the bureaucratic and medical outrages being uncovered in the Department of Veterans Affairs, it won't be long before SNAFU -- a military acronym meaning "Situation Normal: All F----- Up" -- becomes shorthand for government-run health care.

The VA scandal has dominated the headlines for several weeks, but that hasn't slowed the Obamacare train wreck. As the Washington Post reported last week, “the government may be paying incorrect subsidies to more than 1 million Americans for their health plans in the new federal insurance marketplace and has been unable so far to fix the errors. The problem means that potentially hundreds of thousands of people are receiving bigger subsidies than they deserve. They are part of a large group of Americans who listed incomes on their insurance applications that differ significantly -- either too low or too high -- from those on file with the Internal Revenue Service, documents show.”

Evidence is growing that relying on the VA system can literally be a fatal decision.

Why can’t Obamacare figure out the right subsidy for an individual? “The inability to make certain the government is paying correct subsidies is a legacy of computer troubles that crippled last fall’s launch of healthcare.gov and the initial months of the first sign-up period for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Federal officials and contractors raced to correct most of the technical problems hindering consumers’ ability to choose a health plan. But behind the scenes, important aspects of the Web site remain defective — or simply unfinished.”

Only in government would the designers of a massive health care program not build in from the start the ability to match an applicant’s financial data with the appropriate government premium subsidy.

But Obamacare is only in the start-up phase. The VA department has been directly providing health care to millions of veterans for decades and evidence is growing that relying on the system can literally be a fatal decision. The Washington Examiner's Mark Flatten reported May 12 that a Texas VA clinic implemented a cost-cutting measure in 2010 that required a patient to undergo three positive bloody stool screens before the government would approve a colonoscopy. Dr. Paul Krugman, who protested the policy while serving in the VA facility, told Flatten that “by the time that you do the colonoscopies on these patients, you went from a stage 1 to a stage 4 [colorectal cancer], which is basically inoperable.”

As many as 15,000 vets were subjected to this treatment. There is no way of knowing how many died because they spent their final days at home or in a private facility. Suffering and dying in obscurity due to a cost-cutting measure by a government-run health care system is the ultimate SNAFU, and nobody can guarantee it won't be an commonplace under Obamacare.

View article comments Leave a comment

More from washingtonexaminer.com