REMEMBER THE REED

REMEMBER THE REED. The interesting thing about this ongoing Walter Reed story is that veterans services are finally taking the center stage after years of low-profile status. A spot on the Veterans Affairs Committee is something to be sought, especially if you're from a moderate district. This is one instance of investigative journalism actually bringing an issue to the forefront. What's more, the story didn't just get someone fired (as good investigative journalism is wont to do), it also managed to bring attention to the fact that military hospital conditions around the nation are often sub-par, and open the door to a wider range of veterans issues.

This is where moderate Democrats go to work: There's a sentimental feeling about veterans. Most folks believe that, because they risked their lives, they deserve good treatment once they get home. So Dems need to start loudly decrying the poor work of the Bush administration, passing reform rules, and increasing funding for veterans.

And since so many people are saying that VA care is bad, maybe this is a good time for us to look at a good way to overhaul the entire health care system. After all, Phillip Longman has a book on VA health care coming out, Best Care Anywhere, says that veterans receive better care than anyone in the country on average. (Read Longman's response to the Walter Reed coverage.) Is this a timely political moment for a debate on the benefits of instituting a quality universal system? Here's where I turn to those that study health care. Ezra? You're quoted on the back of Longman's book...

UPDATE: This post originally referred to VA hospitals, but it appears that it has been rather poorly reported that Walter Reed is not, in fact, a VA hospital, but a military one. For more on poor conditions around the country on military hospitals in rapid decline, the WaPo had a story today.

--Kay Steiger

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