VA secretary: Privatization not the answer

Source: Steve B. Brooks, American Legion, August 31, 2016

While some are calling for the privatization of health care for the nation’s veterans, the man leading the Department of Veterans Affairs says those calls are not motivated solely by concern for veterans. Addressing The American Legion National Convention in Cincinnati, VA Secretary Bob McDonald said such proposals aren’t driven by veterans’ best interests. … “It doesn’t serve veterans well, and it doesn’t sit well with me. So make sure there’s substance to those discussions, that they’re about veterans’ interests and not something else.” During a 24-minute speech, McDonald admitted VA still has work in front of it but said the agency has the opportunity to make 2016 the year “it turns the corner.” …McDonald pointed to changes in leadership, noting that 14 of the department’s top 17 executives are new since he was appointed in July 2014. “These are world-class, enthusiastic business leaders and health-care professionals,” he said. “Eight of them are veterans themselves.” …

Related:

Obama opposes privatization of VA health care
Source: Associated Press, June 5, 2016

President Barack Obama is opposing suggestions the government privatize the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve health care veterans receive. In an interview with the Colorado Springs Gazette, the president said his administration has made progress modernizing the VA and providing veterans with more timely health care following criticism over wait times. Privatizing the agency would delay that progress, he said. … U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, agreed with Obama that total privatization would be a mistake, but he said veterans need more options, including private care. To cope with the problems, Obama signed the Veterans Access to Care Act that requires the VA to contract with private providers when a clinic isn’t within 40 miles of the veteran seeking care or the wait time for care is more than 30 days.

The Conservative Plan to Fix the VA Has Vets Hopping Mad
Source: AJ Vicens, Mother Jones, April 5, 2016

Some members of the commission established by Congress to evaluate the Department of Veterans Health Administration have proposed drastically reducing the size of the VHA by closing its health facilities and transferring the care of the nation’s millions of military veterans to the private sector. But in a letter sent to the chair of the Commission on Care, leaders of eight of the country’s most prominent veterans’ advocacy organizations blasted the proposal. … The “Strawman” report, which echoes VA privatization efforts that have been backed by the Koch brothers, says “bold transformation” is needed for the VA to address the needs of its enrolled veterans, and that the system is “seriously broken” with “no efficient path to repair it.” The plan calls for closing many “obsolete” VA facilities and moving toward a model where veterans can seek taxpayer-funded care at private health care facilities. A process similar to the Base Realignment and Closure system—used by the military since the end of the Cold War to decide which bases to close—would be used to evaluate which VA medical facilities would close. Under the plan, there would be no new facilities or major renovations of the existing VA facilities. The plan also called for private doctors to be reimbursed at 5 to 10 percent higher than the Medicare rate, so they would have a greater incentive to participate.