At a press breakfast in Washington, Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald made a comparison so outrageous that reporters' jaws must have been dropping into the scrambled eggs. Comparing the sometimes lethal waiting times for medical care at VA hospitals to the ride lines at theme parks, McDonald said, “When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line or what’s important? What’s important is: What’s your satisfaction with the experience?”

This is offensively wrong on multiple levels. First of all, I don’t think patients’ satisfaction with VA hospitals is even in the same theme park with Disney visitors’ satisfaction with Space Mountain (although “It’s A Small World” might remind them of the VA, as they move slowly around in a big circle, being driven crazy until they end up right back where they started). Secondly, unlike the VA, Disney goes to astounding lengths to study and speed up waiting lines. And the third big difference between Disney and the VA is that if people were dropping dead in the waiting line for the Haunted Mansion, I bet the Disney people would’ve actually done something to fix the problem by now!

I think Secretary McDonald needs to spend more time in VA clinics himself, and a little less time in Fantasyland.

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