Yesterday, I spoke about my new book at a wonderful forum in San Francisco on “The Threats to Veterans Healthcare” with Congressional leader Nancy Pelosi. The session was sponsored by the Veterans Healthcare Action Campaign. Other speakers included Michael Blecker of Swords to Plowshares, veteran Edgar Escobar, and Major General Mike Myatt. Over two hundred people came to learn more about how they can participate in the fight against VHA privatization–as patients, VHA staff members, and as union activists. In fact, so many came that the room was over-flowing. In the comment period, veterans spoke out from the floor with amazing stories about the importance of VHA care. To learn more about these issues, please order my new book The Battle for Veterans’ Healthcare and check out the website of Fighting for Veterans’ Healthcare, where you will find an excellent analysis of how Choice may dismantle the VA. For U.S. Representative Pelosi’s remarks and more on our panel, click here and to see the video of the event, here
As I write in this new blog in The American Prospect, Trump’s hiring freeze is hurting the VHA in spite of exemptions.
But veterans who rely on the VA for benefits, pensions, compensation, and health care are still in big trouble. Chronic staff shortages and underfunding have been at the heart of a VA crisis centered on long wait times for care. Though doctors, nurses, and certain other essential health-care professionals and support staff have been exempted from the freeze, that still leaves the VA with a multitude of vacancies that will hamper its ability to deliver high-quality care.
To be sure, the recent exemptions have led some who are worried about the VA’s future to breathe a sigh of relief. When Trump announced his blanket federal hiring freeze, it did not exempt anyone at the VA. That led lawmakers and veterans’ advocates to protest that the freeze would cripple the VHA. In response, acting VA Secretary Robert D. Snyder sent out a memorandum on January 27 exempting doctors, nurses, and other health-care professionals and clinical support staff from the freeze. READ MORE
This was just published on the Washington Monthly Site. It’s a great piece by a Vietnam combat veteran who was also a psychologist at the VHA for many years. Well worth the read.
Trump’s Pick for VA Secretary Could Continue Obama’s Progress by Edgardo Padin-Rivera
January 20, 2017.
As a veteran who served in Vietnam and then has spent nearly 30 years as a psychologist at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), I am heartened by President Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Dr. David J. Shulkin, who served as undersecretary for health in the VA under Obama, is very different from Trump’s other cabinet picks. He supports the VHA’s mission and is opposed to privatizing VHA services. Although he believes veterans should be able to receive care from private sector providers, he wants that care to be integrated into the VHA system, which, as all evidence shows, delivers higher quality care to veterans at lower cost than the private sector ever could.
That said, there is still a lot to worry about as Congress, the media and the president continue to publish misleading articles about the VHA and propose legislation that will end up jeopardizing its quality and even its very existence.
Consider for example, how VA healthcare is portrayed in much of the media.READ MORE
Just did this new blog post for the American Prospect. Please read and share.
In the debate over the future of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), no concept has attracted more controversy than “privatization.” Since wholesale privatization of the VHA is deeply unpopular among veterans and their advocacy organizations, groups like the Koch brothers-funded Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) argue that they do not support “privatization” of the VHA. As the CVA’s “Fixing Veterans Health Care” report, published earlier this year explains, the group just wants to give veterans “the same degree of choice that is available to other Americans,” with the federal government paying the tab.
Last week, The Washington Post entered the fray. Writing for the paper’s “Fact Checker” column, reporter Michelle Ye Hee Lee gave Senator Jon Tester of Montana and Representative Mark Takano of California, both Democrats, three out of a possible four Pinocchios (signifying “significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions”) for suggesting that the CVA and Trump transition team members support VHA privatization. According to Lee, the CVA’s position does not constitute privatization because, the “CVA has not proposed a wholesale transfer of VHA’s services over to the private sector—which is what ‘privatization’ usually describes.”
Given the coming assault on health care in general — Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid — and the Veterans Health Administration in particular, please view the following videos done by the Disabled American Veterans. Please click, and then share. We need to make stuff like this go viral. It’s brilliant!! They include the misguided proposals and then suggest workable proposals that would strengthen, improve, and reform the VHA not dismantle it.
Setting the Record Straight on VA Health Care Reform: Privatizing the VA
Setting the Record Straight on VA Health Care Reform, Centers of Excellence
Setting the Record Straight on VA Health Care Reform, Treating only Service Related Injuries
Setting the Record Straight on VA Health Care Reform, Let the Money Follow the Veteran
Setting the Record Straight on VA Health Care Reform: Turning VA into an Insurance Provider