VA privatization debate to hinge on coming report

Source: Travis J. Tritten, Stars & Stripes, June 29, 2016

The coming week could be a watershed moment in the volatile debate over privatizing more health care at the Department of Veterans Affairs. A panel created by Congress to overhaul the VA is expected to release final recommendations July 6 that are two years in the making and will likely include the option of private care for the millions of veterans who now use the federal system of hospitals and clinics. It will come amid controversial proposals to give all veterans a card to access private doctors and to turn the VA into a not-for-profit corporation. Those efforts to push the department toward privatized care caused near universal blowback from national veterans groups. Unionized VA employees were staging opposition rallies across the country due to fears over privatization in the lead-up to the commission’s VA report. … [American Federation of Government Employees] is concerned that the Commission on Care is bent on significantly expanding the use of private care to treat veterans – a move that Cox said could result in the closure of 12 to 15 VA health care facilities annually due to a lack of need. … Eight veterans groups, including the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, strongly criticized the plan and warned they would reject any final recommendations aimed at privatizing the VA health care system, which is the largest integrated health care network in the country. …


Room for Debate: Should the Veterans Health Care System be Privatized?
Source: New York Times, June 28, 2016

The federal Commission on Care, set up to study the future of Department of Veterans Affairs health care, is to present its final report this week. Seven of its 15 member have released recommendations that some veterans groups say would privatize the system. Would privatization of V.A. health care improve the system or undermine it?


PHILLIP LONGMAN: Phillip Longman is the author of “Best Care Anywhere: Why VA Care Would Work Better for Everyone.” He serves on the Commission on Care, which has been tasked by Congress and President Obama with crafting a strategic plan for the future of veterans health care.

AVIK ROY: Avik Roy is the opinion editor at Forbes. He co-chaired the Fixing Veterans Health Care Taskforce, along with former Representative Jim Marshall (D.-Ga.), former Senator Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.) and Michael Kussman, a former Veterans Heath Administration director.