WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 2372 – the VA Mission Act – opening the door to the privatization of the country’s largest health care system.
In response to the vote, and the future of the VA, American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. issued the following statement:
“The VA Mission Act is a horrendous piece of legislation that will set the only health care system tailored to veterans on a path of total privatization. It’s a broken promise to our nation’s veterans and imperils the future of their health care.
“We elected our members of Congress to protect veterans, but S. 2372 is an abdication of that responsibility. Instead of deciding how to improve VA hospitals and medical centers, Congress is passing the buck. Now, an unaccountable, private, corporate-style commission will have the power to decide which facilities to close, which to repair, and which to build.
“We already know that 92 percent of veterans want to see the VA invested in, 80 percent don’t want vouchers, and only 13 percent of private providers are even capable of treating veterans. The VA Mission Act blows past those facts to push veterans out in to the unaccountable private, for-profit system and it’s clear why – money.
“For years, special interest groups have tried to dismantle the VA so they could make a buck off the backs of veterans, and now they’re closer than ever. It’s a disgrace, and we must stop them from pushing veterans out of the health care system they want and need to stand in longer lines at underqualified private providers.
“We as a country made a solemn promise to the men and women who signed up to serve our country. And despite what Congress seems to think, it was not to force veterans into for-profit, walk-in clinics. It was to provide a comprehensive health care system created for their unique needs.
“The VA needs help, there is no doubt about that. To date, there are: more than 49,000 unfilled positions nationwide, a fraudulent Choice program that is robbing taxpayers of millions of dollars, and a serious leadership void at the second largest agency in the country. But instead of focusing on any of these priorities – which will result in veterans receiving their care faster and without creditors hounding them – Congress has put forth a plan that takes a monumental step toward privatization.
“After President Trump fired then-Secretary David Shulkin, Dr. Shulkin wrote about warring factions within the administration attempting to privatize the VA. Now we can see pro-privatizers are winning that war with the VA Mission Act one step closer to becoming law.
“We are calling on our members and concerned citizens of the community to call their members of Congress and tell them to vote ‘NO’ on S. 2372, and hope those in Congress who support veterans will step up before it’s too late.”