The House Veterans Affairs Committee May 8 passed a bill that would pave the way for a wholesale privatization of the VA.
H.R. 5476 passed the House VA Committee by a 20-2 margin, with Ranking Member Tim Walz and Vice Ranking Member Mark Takano voting against the measure. It will now go to the House Rules Committee and on to the House Floor for consideration.
AFGE opposes the bill because it would:
- Give a VA Secretary the authority to privatize and dismantle broad swaths of the VA health care system through a permanent private sector health care program.
- Devastate veterans’ communities by closing vibrant VA medical centers that have become their communities, not just hospitals.
- Lead to deterioration of VA facilities and in-house skills as resources are moved to private sector program.
AFGE sent a letter to the committee prior to the markup voicing our opposition. We submitted seven recommendations, including holding private providers to the same standards for patient care as VA’s in-house providers, but they were rejected. The committee, however, agreed to require the VA to be more transparent about the number of unfilled positions.
“It is imperative that we not starve the VA for resources and kowtow to the Koch Brothers scheme to dismantle the crown jewel of the American health care system,” AFGE said in the May 7 letter.