three stooges

Ah the glories of government medicine!  1200 veterans were recently informed by the VA that they had Lou Gehrig’s Disease.


Former Air Force Reservist Gale Reid received a letter from the Veterans Affairs Department that told her she had Lou Gehrig’s disease, and she immediately put herself through a battery of painful, expensive tests. Five days later, the VA said its “diagnosis” was a mistake.

The Montgomery, Ala., resident was among at least 1,200 veterans who received a letter about disability benefits for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, even though they hadn’t been diagnosed with the illness, according to the National Gulf War Resource Center. Veterans were initially suspicious of the letters, but still went through the agony not knowing exactly whether they had the fatal disease, which typically kills people within five years.

At least 2,500 letters informing veterans of disability benefits for ALS were sent out, and of those, some 1,200 were a mistake, according to the National Gulf War Resource Center. The wrongly sent letters were supposed to inform veterans of an undiagnosed neurological disorder, according to the Gulf War veterans group, which provides information, support and referrals about illnesses to veterans.

No one knows for sure exactly how many letters were mailed to veterans treated at VA hospitals and how many were a mistake. VA spokeswoman Katie Roberts didn’t return telephone messages or an e-mail Monday.

Read the whole story here.  The last line in the story says it all for what we all have in store for us in the unlikely event that ObamaCare ever becomes a reality.


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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. Actually I’ve worked in the VA system and what I’ve saw there and what I’ve seen regarding surveys of VA patients, it is almost always ranks as the highest rated health care provider in the United States. Higher than the best private insurers!

    What this story shows is a mistake that happens in ALL large institutions, including the big insurance companies. Don’t be fooled into thinking private companies are the pillars of efficiency – see, Enron, Lehman Brothers, AIG, GM, etc. You just rarely hear about their problems because they fix them in private or hide them and people can not use the Freedom of Information Act to find out what is going on.

    Also, there is no such thing as ObamaCare. He hasn’t articulated or chosen any one of the half-dozen plans out there.

    Finally, philosophically as a nation we figured out that we wanted the military, the police dept., the fire dept., the interstate freeway system, the FBI, etc. to be publically (government-run) because even if we don’t need the police, fire fighters or each and every freeway personally, it makes sense to put vital national services like those in a government system. They still need to follow free markets, but I as a citizen if my house is on fire, I don’t have to go to the yellow pages and choose a private fire fighting company. We want businesses that produce things (milk, cars, toothpaste) and serve normal service functions (dry cleaning, architects, etc.) to be capitalistic free market driven institutions.

    I feel health care somewhere in between fire fighting and toothpaste manufacturing, so I don’t mind government regulations or a public option that works with private corporations. It works for FedEx and security companies and all sorts of businesses that do more than what the government itself is charged to do – so why not health care?

    Just let people have a choice beyond the multinational bureaucracies!

  2. Contra your statement MacGregor, the VA throughout most of its history has received terrible marks for its care. Most veterans who went to it did so only because it was “free”. Towards the end of the Bush administration during the Iraq War conditions improved because large amounts of money were spent and because Bush took a personal interest in making sure that veterans received adequate care. Like most government entities the VA has only performed well when the people at the top made it a clear priority.

    A good brief overview of some of the VA problems prior to the push by the Bush administration to resolve some of the more glaring defects is linked to below.


  3. There is a good recent article in the London INDEPENDENT on a report from a nurses’ association that over one million elderly patients were neglected or maltreated in NHS hospitals.

  4. Hi Donald: I understand your need to make Bush out to be the one who took a “personal interest” in the VA system, but it was he who cut funding by a significant amount until people in the media and other lawmakers started making it a scandal.

    The website link you indicate is hardly unbiased and obviously ignores the longer more complete history of the Walter Reed story. Websites like The Center for Public Integrity are good for bringing up issues that the bland corporate media ignores, but I would take its publications with a healthy dose of skepticism, just as I would for left-wing websites … even if you do believe in their political slant.

    Again, I worked for the VA hospital in Portland Oregon and I’ve worked for a large private hospital, Emanuel Hospital, also in Portland and many of my family has worked in private practice and in public medical clinics.

    ALL HAVE PROBLEMS!!! They just have different problems and they all depend upon how good the administrators are and how effective they medical staff performs. For every report on one million elderly being neglected in British govt. hospitals, I can give you one on one million elderly being neglected in private US institutions. Have you folks forgotten the private nursing homes that were the death of so many in New Orleans?

    My wife worked in the health field as a surgical nurse for 20 years in private practice. She made a great deal of money and enjoyed it. But she eventually grew to hating the system that she realized she was supporting. She saw the pharmaceutical companies bribe doctors with dinners, workshops overseas, generous kickbacks for using their products regardless of what the patient really needed. She saw the fraud in the radio-oncology practice that over estimated EVERY expense to the insurance companies and the insurance companies never asked or investigated because it simply meant they could increase rates and keep the money machine working. She was paid $15,000 to be on-call for one weekend a month in case there was an accident that needed her assistance (brain trauma) and 90% of the time nothing happened. This was in the PRIVATE SECTOR.

    Like I said, she eventually could not morally work in that system anymore which seemed to only favor unethical doctors and profits over patient care.

    I can understand that so many people are skeptical about government run systems, but if you think private care is sustainable and ethical you are completely ignorant or willfully ideological.

    What the 20th century taught us, was that neither government nor the free-market have a monopoly on wisdom. Neither liberals nor conservatives have a monopoly on virtue, and you can come up with websites that support any ideology you want.

    The important thing is to remain curious, intellectually honest and open to changing your mind – otherwise you are not approaching the issue like an ethical adult.

    So why do you think health care should be run like the financial industry and not like the fire fighting industry?

  5. Donald: Thanks for sending that FactCheck site. Those are good numbers and I see that I was incorrect in saying that he cut benefits … at least by 2004. Obviously the last wars in Iraq and an aging veteran population had put real pressure on each of the last Presidents to increase the VA budget, and Kerry’s claims were unfounded … kind of like Bush’s claims about McCain’s war record.

    Yet the same article showed that even with increasing discretionary funding, the increases were less than the increases in the demand. Clinton did not increase the budget as much as Bush obviously as the first Iraq war vets were just beginning to leave the military.

    As much as I admit my error, and I am not particularly anti-Bush, it was a rather minor point of my post and doesn’t say anything about government health care … at least from a Catholic, moral perspective. I also know from my brother’s experience in Iraq as a marine that most of the problems he had medical coverage wise, was a problem with the military in general and not in the administration or benefits or competence of the medical staff.

    The article also does a good job of showing how good the VA benefits package is. It is probably more than what needs to happen in civilian health care, but again I propose that a public option is not by definition immoral or ineffective. It is just somewhat liberal and it seems that some people are more interested in espousing a conservative or Republican opinion than simply espousing a Catholic or moral opinion. I doubt Christ would have much issue with health care from a government or private source as long as it truly helped the sick. At least that seems to be what the gospels say.

    Again, thanks for the information Donald.

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