In a couple of weeks, a commission that’s been rigged against veterans from the start is about to come out with its final “recommendations,” which could include a recommendation to close down Veterans Affairs hospitals and give veterans coupons to shop for their care at for-profit hospital corporations.
The congressionally-mandated VA Commission on Care, which is stacked with for-profit, pro-privatization hospital executives who stand to benefit financially from privatization, is tentatively scheduled to issue its final report on June 30.
The commission is likely to include key portions of an earlier proposal known as the "strawman document," which proposed to shut down all VA medical centers and instead give veterans a coupon to shop for their care. Veterans groups have stood in strong opposition to VA privatization and hospital closures, but certain members of the commission and several lawmakers are committing to stripping the system our veterans rely on for parts and selling it off to the lowest bidder.
The final report serves as the climax of an elaborate multi-year plot by some of the commission members to allow private hospital executives to make billions off veterans’ injuries. Congress, however, still needs to decide whether to introduce bills that would allow these hospital executives to profit off of veterans suffering.
To be clear, veterans overwhelmingly prefer to receive care from VA hospitals. The VA is moer than just a health care and benefits delivery system; it's a community of veterans from all wars and backgrounds that gives them healing that simply can't be bought in the private sector. A recent Vet Voice Foundation survey of veterans found that 64% were opposed to privatizing VA medical centers and services. An overwhelming 80% of respondents said no when asked whether they would like a voucher in place of their coordinated VA care.
The VA is a model health care system that leads the way in medical research, specialized services, and health care technologies. Unlike the rest of the population, veterans need more complex care, and the VA has specific centers for traumatic brain injury, prosthetic services, spinal cord injury/dysfunction, visual rehabilitation, mental health, and war-related poly-traumatic injuries. Because of the specific mission to serve veterans, no private sector health care system has the same level of expertise as the VA. No other health care system can treat the whole veteran like the VA. And veterans know it.
AFGE has been sounding the alarm and has reached out to members of Congress about these attempts to destroy veterans health care.
“We cannot allow a self-interested group of politicians, greedy health care executives, and shadowy billionaires like the Koch brothers break the promise we’ve made to veterans who risked their lives for the country,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. “We must stand together and urge lawmakers to do the right thing and block any attempts to destroy the best health care system for our heroes.”