Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald is claiming he was either misunderstood or that he misspoke when he 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?”

McDonald has appropriately received blowback for this tone-deaf comment, and he backtracked 33 hours later (who’s counting?). But his comment was not only insensitive. It was also wrong.

Of course health care is a matter of life and death and shouldn’t be compared to a tilt-a-whirl ride at an amusement park. And obviously wait times are an important part of how quality of care should be measured.

Even worse for the VA secretary, his revealing comment speaks to a terrible truth for America’s veterans: They’d actually be better off if a private company, like Disney, were in charge of their care.

The VA has been in hot water over waiting times since 2014 when journalists revealed that scores of veterans died while waiting for care in the Phoenix VA system on “unofficial” and manipulated waiting lists. Further investigations by the VA inspector general, Congress and the White House revealed that the problem was not isolated to Phoenix, but actually affected tens of thousands of veterans nationwide.

Nearly two years later, wait times are still too long, and the feds still aren’t being transparent enough about them. The VA Office of the Inspector General reported that 21 of 38 facilities investigated were using “improper scheduling.” USA Today explained:

“The problems included schedulers entering the next available date as a veteran’s desired date, thereby reflecting no wait time. In some cases, they found managers directing them to do it. In others, VA staff had lists of patients outside the system, which meant their actual wait time was unknown.”

Almost needless to say, it’s a tremendous insult to Disney to suggest that the theme park operates anything like today’s Department of Veterans Affairs. In fact, Disney does measure and share wait times with their customers and the public in various ways.

Not only are ride-goers apprised of wait times by signs at most rides, but new smartphone applications can communicate wait times and other information about attractions across the park. If only the VA used similar technology!

But outdated technology, long wait times and poor customer service are common problems in government-controlled health-care systems, like the VA and like some European countries with socialized medicine. The reason for this is a lack of competition, which robs the provider (the government) of any real incentive to measure and improve service.

Of course there’s political and public pressure to improve, but this pressure is no substitute for market competition and the potential loss of customers, which would drive providers out of business and workers out of their jobs.

Private companies like Disney have to compete every day with other entertainment companies and theme parks. If Universal Studios or Six Flags is using cutting-edge technology to measure wait times, well, Disney better figure it out, too.

The problem with the VA is that veterans are trapped in the system, with no such recourse if they receive poor or untimely care.

Despite efforts at “reforms” that would offer veterans more choice, not much has changed at the VA. The 2014 Veterans’ Access, Choice, and Accountability Act has not worked as intended. The idea was that veterans getting substandard service at VA facilities could seek care from private doctors, but in reality the restrictions on this option are too great to allow for meaningful choice.

Veterans deserve better service, and they deserve a VA secretary who will be a true advocate on their behalf.

McDonald should not have compared veterans’ health care to Disneyland. His analogy betrayed a lack of seriousness about wait times and an ignorance of how inadequate government’s level of service is compared to the private sector.

Veterans would be better served by a health system where they could choose among private companies competing to offer them the highest quality and best information.

And, yes, shortest wait times.

Hadley Heath Manning is the director of health policy at the Independent Women’s Forum.