WASHINGTON – Health care workers, veterans, and union members at the Department of Veterans Affairs were appalled to hear former Speaker of the House John Boehner disparage them and the agency at the Cleveland Clinic's 2018 Medical Innovation Summit this week.
“While it’s certainly not surprising to hear Mr. Boehner spread such vile and slanderous statements about our country’s largest and best health care system, it’s quite disheartening to the hundreds of thousands of women and men who have dedicated their lives to caring for our nation’s veterans,” said American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr.
Cox, who served as a VA nurse for more than 20 years added, “We know that while in office, Congressman Boehner did little to disguise his efforts to privatize the health care system our veterans want and need, but he’s taken it a step further now by bashing the fantastic work done by everyone at the Veterans Health Administration.”
While discussing the role of the federal government in the health care industry Monday, Boehner called the VA “hopeless,” said it offers “substandard care to our veterans,” and added that “If you're a real doctor, you're probably not working at the VA."
“Study after study and poll after poll shows that the VA offers the highest level of care our country has to offer, and that veterans overwhelmingly prefer it to the private, for-profit sector,” said AFGE National VA Council President Alma Lee, who represents more than 250,000 working people at the VA. “Mr. Boehner’s abhorrent statement is not only unequivocally false, but it’s a slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands of veterans who work here caring for their sisters and brothers that have borne the battle.”
According to the VA’s annual report, around 70 percent of all doctors practicing in the country “received at least some of their training at VA hospitals,” and that, “In the private sector, a veteran’s care is fragmented and their providers are likely not be trained in meeting the unique health needs of veterans.”
“When you have independent groups like the American Medical Association saying VA hospitals outperform non-VA hospitals in six out of nine patient safety indicators, and the RAND Corporation reporting that 87 percent of surveyed civilian providers of mental health care are not prepared to treat veterans, it’s clear that Mr. Boehner is not remotely accurate in what he’s saying,” said Cox. “Even the Commission on Care – which was steered in part by Mr. Boehner – said that the Veterans Health Administration offers health care that is superior to that of the private sector. So, the question is, why make up such false statements now? The only answer I can come up with is so veterans can stand in line at private medical centers and facilities run by his special interest friends.”
Lee agreed with Cox and added that veterans and their service organizations believe in the VA.
“According to a study done by the Veterans of Foreign Wars last year, 92 percent of veterans want the VA invested in, and according to VoteVets, 80 percent want the VA health care system – not vouchers to go out and wait in the private sector. Obviously veterans want the VA. And clearly it offers the highest level of care. Mr. Boehner needs to apologize for denigrating the work done by public servants and veterans here, and he should be careful about spreading such malicious falsehoods in the future,” she said.