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June 9 2016

Fresh Effort at VA Health Reform

Hadley Heath

Recently, Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald ruffled feathers when he inappropriately compared the VA to Disneyland. Specifically, he was commenting on the VA's failure to measure wait times, an issue that has received increased scrutiny since the 2014 scandal that started in Phoenix (revealing that scores of veterans died on manipulated waiting lists while waiting for care). The issue in Phoenix turned out to be a much bigger problem that affected tens of thousands of veterans at facilities nationwide. 

In response, Congress passed and President Obama signed the 2014 Access, Choice, and Accountability Act. It was a good law -- in theory -- but in practice it has not solved the problem of improper scheduling, too-long wait times, and a lack of transparency around wait times. It's a travesty that of all people our veterans are receiving substandard care. As Concerned Veterans of America points out, veterans are the federally-subsidized health consumers whose benefits are limited to certain facilities. Medicare, Medicaid and ObamaCare beneficiaries can use their support among a network of providers... Veterans must use their benefits only at VA facilities. It's time to change this and give veterans more options. The public agrees: A March 2016 Gallup poll found that 91 percent of Americans believe veterans should be able to get health care from any provider who accepts Medicare, not just VA facilities. That's a remarkably strong majority. There are very few issues that have this broad of agreement among the American people. 

The latest legislative proposal that would address this, along with other reforms to ensure greater accountability within the VA, is called the "Caring for Our Heroes in the 21st Century Act." Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers supports the idea and is working to introduce the proposal in Congress. Concerned Veterans for America supports the legislative proposal and said in a statement: "While the usual chorus of special interests and entrenched bureaucrats will fight to protect their political power, Congress must do the right thing by standing with our veterans and implementing this commonsense legislation." Indeed.

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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