Mitt Romney floated the idea of partially privatizing the veterans health care system during a roundtable discussion with vets in South Carolina on Veterans Day, saying, “When you work in the private sector and you have a competitor, you know if I don’t treat this customer right, they’re going to leave me and go somewhere else, so I’d better treat them right…”
Reading the piece, I thought of what a disaster our private-sector health insurance system is — of how rarely customers are treated right, because all the “competitors” for our business cheat and overcharge. And of how the VA health care system is, by comparison, a model of efficiency. As the ThinkProgress writer noted:
… The fully integrated veterans’ health care structure of doctors and hospitals provides veterans with benefits that are the envy of the rest of the health care system. A study by the RAND Corporation found that “VA patients were more likely to receive recommended care” and “received consistently better care across the board, including screening, diagnosis, treatment and follow up. Rather than taking veterans out of a system that consistently delivers “higher quality of care,” Romney should expand its services and improve access.
And then I remembered who we’re dealing with here. Romney, the front-running Republican presidential candidate, became rich at the expense of people who worked for companies that were bought and sold by his private equity firm. He and his “deputies,” as the NYT called them, are directly responsible for the suffering of thousands of people who lost jobs or had their salaries and benefits cut.
Mitt thinks he did honorable work, that the companies he tore apart — the ones that survived — are healthier because they’re more efficient — i.e., more profitable for executives and shareholders. But some of us think Mitt is a pious marauder, a standout performer among those who have used downsizing, off-shoring, privatizing and other strategies to enrich themselves by drastically lower the quality of life for those of us who aren’t wealthy.