VA Mission Act? To Privatize the VA

From The Washington Monthly

Congress Is Poised to Push Veterans’ Health Care Closer to Privatization

The VA Mission Act sends more veterans into private health care without giving the VA the resources it so badly needs.

n an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote last Wednesday, the House passed The VA Mission Act. The Senate is expected to pass companion legislation Wednesday, and President Trump quite likely will sign it into law on Memorial Day.

The objective of the VA Mission Act is clear: further privatization of key services inside the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. It has been plotted out behind closed doors by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, powerful business interests, and savvy conservative veterans’ groups who find themselves newly influential in Trump’s Washington.

The first strike in this war over privatization occurred in 2014, when Republicans blocked a bill introduced by Bernie Sanders that would have provided the VA with much-needed funds and expanded services to veterans. A compromise measure, the 2014 VA Choice Act, gave the VA a fraction of the funds it needed while allocating $10 billion for care in the private sector. (More than one-third of all VA-funded medical appointments last year took place in the private sector.)

The Choice Act, cast initially as a temporary measure, has been extended repeatedly. The Mission Act will make permanent its privatizing principles by allowing and even encouraging more veterans to seek care outside the VA. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the act would result in 640,000 additional veterans seeking private care in the first few years after its passage, and that the agency’s current annual allocation of $9 billion for private care would increase substantially. Read More

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