A new Veteran’s Administration program expanding private care options is showing promise. For veterans stuck in the bureaucratic mess, it helps a lot. Some are worried though, about what privatization could mean for veteran’s health care in the long run.
Veterans are growing more and more satisfied with VA doctors and personnel, along with the quality of care they have been getting at VA hospitals under President Donald Trump’s administration. When they are able to see a doctor, that is.
For decades, the VA constantly faced criticism over the failing quality of care at VA clinics.That problem has improved drastically but another problem wasn’t so easy to solve.
Veterans were placed on long waiting lists and are unable to get the care they needed for weeks or even months at a time.
Under the VA Mission Act, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump in 2018, provision was made to shorten wait times by allowing veterans to receive care in private clinics as well as VA facilities. It started working right away and a new and improved version should help even more.
The Veterans Care Community Program, launched on June 6, is an extension of the original plan that provides veterans with greater choice in seeing private doctors. If the VA waiting list is more than a couple of weeks or so and if the drive time is more than a certain distance — which all too often, it is — the veteran can seek care somewhere convenient.
Another of the law’s aims is to improve retention at VA clinics by raising pay and debt forgiveness for medical professionals.
Some opponents are using what amounts to scare tactics about privatization, saying that the VA Mission Act’s true purpose is to privatize the VA. That’s a lie. It provides greater choice to veterans to see private providers when the VA system fails them.
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie notes that statistics show veterans increasingly prefer to use the VA facilities. He assures that “the Trump administration isn’t pursuing a secret privatization agenda.” Only about a third of veterans go to private clinics. “Veterans request appointments with private doctors at a rate of around 30 percent.”
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The pro-veteran advocacy group, Concerned Veterans for America, has been a major force in the drive for reform of the VA, and greater choice for veterans in their health care decisions.
Veterans have done their time of service to us and to the nation, and have risked their lives in that service. Some have lost friends and even family members. We should be obligated to provide for them the best care available. They served us, now let us serve and provide the greatest possible care for them.