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These past few weeks, the biggest news (prior to a young douchebag with a history of mental problems being able to buy a gun and kill a half dozen classmates because no girl would date the creepy bastard) was that Administrators of the Arizona Veterans Administration had been cooking the books, intentionally deceiving the VA HQ, in order to win performance bonuses. Last March, Senate Republicans blocked a $24 Billion increase in funding for the VA that would have included the construction of twenty-seven new medical facilities to accommodate the over two million additional wounded vets suddenly thrust into an already stressed out VA hospital system thanks to Bush’s perpetual wars. On the other end of the spectrum, we have seen no less than FIFTY-ONE votes by the GOP-led House to “repeal ObamaCare” and Red state governors refusing federal funds to expand medicaid that would have provided health care to the poor. What do these things have in common? Republicans. The only problem with the VA is that people are prevented from seeing a doctor in a timely manner because Republicans refused to expand the program. Ditto for Medicaid AND the ObamaCare Exchanges. Note to GOP: ALL “health care”, be it in the private sector or government run, is bad WHEN YOU ARE DENIED ACCESS TO IT!

One of the reasons Mugsy’s Rap Sheet exists is… as our tagline points out… “Recording history for those who seek to rewrite it”, and indeed, that seems to be the new stock & trade of the GOP. Because I remember well how towards the end of the Bush Administration, news broke of deplorable conditions at Walter Reed. Media Matters reminded everyone last week of the “Walter Reed Scandal” that Salon broke in early 2007. Crumbling plaster, mold in patient rooms, roaches, you name it. And the response on the Right? “Scandal? What scandal?” BTW: Walter Reed is NOT a VA hospital. Your average vet can’t just call up and make an appointment there. It’s reserved for the “crem de’ la crem”: Top Brass and government officials. The reason given by the Bush Administration for the poor conditions at Walter Reed? It was scheduled for closure, and things just deteriorated rather than keep up the maintenance prior to that time (even though it was still serving patients.) The same hospital that first-term President Bush praised in a visit there in 2003, the jewel of the Military Hospital System, fell into disrepair just four short years later under a Republican president that sought to privatize the VA.

Oh yes, my friends. Just one month before the invasion of Iraq, with U.S. Troops in Afghanistan, President Bush proposed partially privatizing the VA, suggesting we “halt new enrollments” and charge existing non-active duty vets a “$250 a year enrollment fee“, plus co-pays… probably because he knew just how busy the VA was about to get and he didn’t want to pay for it. The backlash was swift and the GOP was… for lack of a better word… “shamed” into increasing funding for the VA… seeing as how it was their wars and all that were suddenly creating all those new Wounded Warriors.

The soaring cost of health care, putting it out of the reach of millions of Americans, is nothing new. What IS new is the fact that in BOTH systems (Public AND Private), Republican obstruction is to blame for that loss of access. Refusing to expand VA funding to accommodate the growing number of veterans means wait times for vets were bound to grow. And the refusal to expand Medicaid likewise means a denial of care for millions more. Meanwhile, Republican pundits are running around pointing at this VA cockup as an example of why they’ve been fighting so hard to repeal ObamaCare. Which is a bit like blaming electric-car fires for why we need to defund Amtrak.

Veterans that manage to get in to see their doctors and receive treatment actually have a very favorable opinion of the VA. In fact, VA hospitals are routinely rated among the best in patient satisfaction. Likewise, doctors and nurses like working for VA hospitals more than regular hospitals. As “OpEdNews” put it in 2007:

Many VA employees work there for idealistic reasons. One technician told me she got “fed up with the paperwork” in private sector medicine and switched to the VA to devote herself to caring for patients full-time.

Happy doctors. Happy patients. And GOP Bouncers at the door turning patients away because they don’t want to fully-fund an incredibly successful system that makes a mockery of everything they’ve been telling us about “government healthcare”. Same thing with ObamaCare. Millions now have insurance that couldn’t afford it before. The soaring rise in insurance rates has suddenly begun to slow for the first time in 30 years. And remember all that trouble with the “ObamaCare website” last October? The site kept crashing because too many people were forced to use it because their Republican governors had refused to create a State Exchange that would have lightened the burden on the Federal Exchange (what ever happened to the “states can do it better” position of the GOP?) No “Death Panels”, and just about every (if not every) “ObamaCare horror story” the GOP has tried to dig up has fallen apart. The only strategy left open to them: deny access by denying funding, and then point to the inevitable failures as PROOF they were right about them all along.

So on this Memorial Day when we are thinking about those who lost their life in service to our country, let us not forget those… both vets AND private citizens… who have died or are going to die as a result of a GOP working overtime to obstruct access to heath care.

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