WASHINGTON – American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley issued the following statement prior to the anticipated public release of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recommendations that, if accepted, would shutter large segments of the VA health care system, deny veterans their preferred choice in health care providers, and force our nation’s heroes into a patchwork of for-profit, private care.
“AFGE members, many of whom are veterans themselves, are outraged by and strongly oppose plans to dismantle large segments of the VA health care system, including medical centers and inpatient facilities for surgery, emergency medical care, mental health, and substance abuse treatment.
“Closing VA facilities will force veterans to rely on uncoordinated, private, for-profit care, where they will suffer from long wait times and be without the unique expertise and integrated services that only the VA provides.
“Every time the VA has tried to privatize veterans’ care, the private sector has charged veterans more money out of pocket for worse outcomes. The VA’s newest attempt at wholesale privatization will have the same effect. Veterans will suffer as scammers and grifters eagerly take advantage of the VA’s open checkbook.
“As the world teeters on the precipice of war, as our health care system finally begins to recover from the incredible stress of a two-year global pandemic, and as we just begin to deal with the aftereffects of ending the decades-long conflict in Afghanistan, now is the worst possible time to consider anything but expansion and improvements to VA facilities.
“Closing facilities must be entirely off the table. Our veterans deserve better.
“On behalf of the 283,000 VA employees AFGE represents, a third of whom are veterans themselves, I urge President Biden and the Congress to reject any proposal that reduces services to our nation’s heroes or cuts jobs of those who take care of them.”