Choice and Accountability Finally Coming to VA
CVA Leads the Way in Forging Environment for ‘Historic’ VA Reform
Arlington, Va. – Sens. John McCain and Bernie Sanders yesterday reached a compromise legislative deal—a historic deal—that does two powerful things for America’s veterans: It gives veterans choice in their healthcare delivery and brings long-overdue accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) supports the framework of the deal and lauds the individuals and organizations that made it possible.
The deal, which incorporates three different VA reform bills, will allow veterans to seek healthcare at a private facility outside the VA healthcare system if they experience long wait times or live more than 40 miles from a VA facility. The legislation also makes it much easier to fire failing VA officials.
Pete Hegseth, CEO of CVA, issued the following statement in reaction:
“This legislation is a historic step in the right direction, and CVA is optimistic that it contains transformational principles that will keep veterans from being held captive to a dysfunctional system and give them better healthcare options. It also finally brings accountability to those running VA facilities, which is long overdue. Sloan Gibson, VA’s acting secretary, acknowledged the need for such legislation in his speech yesterday in Phoenix. Now is the time for reform, and this makes it possible.
“Fundamental reforms like this don’t happen by accident—it took a lot of leaders, and organizations, to make this happen. Specifically, we thank House Committee on Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller and Speaker John Boehner and Congressman David Scott in the House, and Senators Marco Rubio, John McCain, Richard Burr, Tom Coburn, and Bernie Sanders in the Senate. We also thank the American Legion, AMVETS, and IAVA for standing with CVA in this battle for reform.”
That said, the deal is not perfect, and CVA would like some flaws and loopholes in the bill to be addressed. They include:
- The deal rightly gives veterans a choice to seek care outside a VA facility if the wait time is excessive, but it also allows VA to set the standard of what’s considered “excessive.” We should not allow VA—with a track record of fudging numbers and hiding wait times—to have the opportunity to manipulate this number. Instead, the number should be independently established.
- Compared to the House version of this bill (HR 4031), the accountability language in this bill is diluted. We would like to see the conference committee hew closer to the House version.
- The bill calls for more spending, but how will that money be spent? The VA’s budget has grown more than 50 percent in the last five years, yet this bill still calls for modest spending increases. We are wary that the money will be spent wisely, and if it is necessary—it needs to be paid for.
CVA awaits the final language of the bill, and will fight to ensure it reflects true reform and is not laden with watered-down language, vague loopholes, or unnecessary spending.
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Concerned Veterans for America is a non-partisan, non-profit, 501(c)(4) organization that advocates for policies that will preserve the freedom and prosperity we and our families so proudly fought and sacrificed to defend.