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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FACT:

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2021 demands.

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