AFGE condemns the Senate’s passage of a bill that would open the door to privatization of the country’s largest health care system.
Once signed by President Trump, the VA MISSION Act, which focuses on funneling dollars to the private, for-profit sector, will allow for the outsourcing of 36 health care categories including mental health care and spinal cord injury care and allow a private corporate-style commission with unfettered power to decide which VA facilities to close. The act will force veterans into a for-profit private hospital after the closure of their VA.
AFGE had attempted to amend the VA MISSION Act to ensure that the only health care system tailored to the unique needs of veterans was preserved, but was unable to secure the necessary provisions in the House and Senate.
By voting to pass S. 2372, Congress is punting on their responsibility to care for the men and women who have served our country and are taking an extremely dangerous step toward privatization. It is a sad day for the 9.3 million veterans who rely on the VA for their health care and for the more than 120,000 veterans who work there.
AFGE thanks Senators Cory Booker, Jeff Merkley, Mike Rounds, Bernie Sanders, and Brian Schatz for standing up to privatizers by siding with veterans and the working people who serve them every day. We also thank those in the House who stood by veterans and working people as well.
Earlier this week, AFGE was joined by 16 other labor organizations who wrote to every member of the Senate asking them to reject the VA MISSION Act because, “Too much is at stake for veterans, their families and everyone who benefits from the VA’s extraordinary accomplishments to succumb to political pressures to hurriedly pass potentially damaging changes with many unknown consequences.”
Since the 2014 waitlist crisis was first exposed by rank-and-file workers – many of whom are facing firing or the closure of their VA facility now – AFGE has been sounding the alarm on corporate interests seeking the privatize the VA. Now privatizers backed by the Koch brothers are closer than ever to achieving the goal of making a buck off the backs of our veterans while forcing them into an inferior system of care.
“We made a promise to veterans when they signed up to serve that they would be taken care of when they got home – not forced to wait in longer lines at private, walk-in clinics,” said AFGE National VA Council President Alma Lee. “These brave men and women didn’t risk life and limb to receive inferior care outside of the only health care system tailored to their unique needs.”