The White House says Americans can't draw any conclusions yet about just how screwed up is the Department of Veterans Affairs medical care system.
Well, yes, Americans can. And if they have any sense — always a debatable proposition — Americans will.
One conclusion we can draw is an old, familiar one: No matter what the issue or activity, bureaucracy's first and strongest instinct is to protect itself in the face of a perceived threat.
Another conclusion is probably just dawning on those Americans with the wit to see it, because so very few of us have had a brush with a medical system of which government is the sole proprietor: Putting a government bureaucracy in charge of one's health is a gamble likely to end badly.
And yet, if Obamacare stands, that is precisely the gamble each and every American eventually will take.
There is no better predictor of the course of a single-payer medical system in the United States than the VA system, because it is a single-payer system.
If an enrolled patient needs something done, he or she applies to the government-run system for approval; waits until the government-run system is ready to act; accepts the government-run system's solution or, if dissatisfied, appeals to that same government-run system for relief. Because the bureaucracy pays the bill, the bureaucracy makes the decisions — when or if treatment will be given, and whether or not the patient has been well enough served.