Two Brief Notes About the VA Scandal

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I have a couple of things related to the VA scandal that I wish everyone would get straight on:

  • There is a difference between (a) the backlog in initial applications for VA benefits and (b) wait times for appointments at VA hospitals. They are completely different things with completely different roots. Don’t slide confusingly between the two in a single story.
  • You should always try to compare the performance of the VA to private sector care. Saying that the average wait time for non-urgent appointments is 23 days tells us nothing. Is that longer or shorter than it is elsewhere? Ditto for treatment mistakes, breadth of service, availability of pharmaceuticals, etc. All large organizations have large numbers of problems. That’s inevitable. The only way to judge them properly is to compare them to other large organizations doing the same thing.

That’s all for now. I might have more later.

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If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please join your fellow readers who pitch in from time to time to keep our democracy-advancing, justice-seeking journalism charging hard (and to help us avoid a real budget crunch as June 30 approaches and our fiscal year ends).

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