Longman quickly identifies the initial choke-point in the ability of veterans to obtain medical care, one that has nothing to do with the actual socialized healthcare system run by the VA. Basically, in order to access VA health care, veterans have to "prove" they are entitled to that care - that their ailment was a result of their service, for instance. These regulations were mandated by Congress, not the VA or the Obama Administration, and only Congress can pass laws to loosen those restrictions or make the process the Veterans must undergo to receive care less burdensome.
Longman then moves on to a discussion of waiting times at VA facilities, the root of the current scandal. He detail how, although most VA hospitals are actually underutilized because of the passing of large numbers of WWII, Korean War, and Viet Nam War veterans, due to recent population shifts from the north to the sun-belt states, there are some hospitals that are over utilized and have longer wait times (hence the problems in the Phoenix area that have been getting all that press).
After putting the numbers in perspective, Longman critiques the critics calling for privatizing the VA (and all other government-administered healthcare) by noting that the Veterans' organizations themselves do not want the VA privatized, and generally rate the quality of care they receive higher than that provided in the private sector.
Longman finishes with the promise to investigate the question that most media outlets seem to be doing their best not to ask at all:
. . . the key question to ask when confronting the real deficiencies of the VA is “compared to what?” Once that context is established, it becomes clear that VA as a whole continues to outperform the rest of the American health system, making its true lessons extremely important to learn.I look forward to reading the rest of the pieces in this series.