Some of the country’s largest veterans groups such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the like are standing against any expansion being planned for the Veterans Affairs Choice program, which would allow veterans to use medical care health if they are eligible for it.
Bob McDonald, the VA Secretary, has already called the proposals favoring private care over VA facilities for veterans, an ignorance of the state policies. This move has placed him at odds with some of the most powerful US senators such as John McCain, who is the one proposing a legislation to lift the restrictions on Choice. On the other hand, around seven veteran organizations wrote the VA Commission on Care on April 29 declaring opposition against any VA health system that would force veterans to take private medical care. Organizations against the proposals also include Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS, Military Officers Association of America and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. All the heads of the organizations told the panel chairwoman Nancy Schlichting that giving veterans access to private medical facilities being paid by the VA ?would have serious costs, trade-offs and consequences that could endanger or harm the provision of health care to veterans.?
They added, “Such unfettered access to the Choice program could result in a decline in the number of veterans using VA programs and facilities, which would threaten the financial and clinical viability of some VA medical programs and facilities?”
It should be noted here that McCain had introduced a bill on April 27 to make the Choice program permanent and to make to make it available to all veterans enrolled in VA care. According to him the bill is required in order to break down bureaucratic barriers that deny veterans quality medical care on time.
On the other hand, the VA is of the view to consolidate different community care programs including Choice. They want to use the new community care system to provide additional health care provided at the VA facilities. They want to focus more on the areas where services are scarce or facilities are unable to provide timely medical care to former troops.
The 15-member Commission that was created by the Congress in 2014 to study the VA health system and make amendments to ensure veterans are getting timely quality medical services. Since last September, the commission has been working on the task and will be releasing its final report in June this year. However, the panel has already made headlines when last month the members discussed the possibility of shutting down all VA facilities and moving the former troops to a system similar to Medicare. In this scenario, all eligible former troops would receive medical facilities from private providers and it will be paid by the VA.