Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, is famous for his advocacy of a single-payer health care, such as prevails in Canada. However, one feature of such systems is the long wait times that patients have to endure before they get medical care. A case in point exists in the United States, with the Veterans’ Affairs Department health care system, government run, that has featured secret waiting lists upon which veterans have all too often died while in line for vital health care services. Sanders, at first, seemed to think that the story was a partisan plot to undermine the case for government-run healthcare systems, according to a recent story in the Washington Free Beacon.
In April 2014, when Sanders was the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, he blamed the stories of the secret wait lists and the dozens of veterans dying on a plot to undermine the VA Department by conservatives, led by the Koch brothers. Sanders’ attitude was that government is inherently good, and so any opposition to it has to come from nefarious motives.
To be sure, Sanders finally woke up to the fact that the problem at the VA is real and supported legislation to address the secret wait lists. But, the affair illustrates why a Sanders presidency would be dangerous to the life and health of Americans.
One can imagine President Sanders initiating, with considerable fanfare, a government health care system that will fix all the problems, as he sees it, inherent in private medicine. Then when, inevitably, the new system becomes a bureaucratic nightmare and Americans start dying while waiting for treatment, President Sanders would lash out and frame the stories as a plot by the vast, right wing conspiracy to undermine Medicare for All. He would delay fixes to the problem he had helped to create with needless, partisan bickering.
Hillary Clinton has expressed similar sentiments about people blowing the whistle on the mess at the VA.