Grassroots veterans group slams VA, Biden administration for failing to prioritize veterans’ health care needs
ARLINGTON, Va.—Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Executive Director Russ Duerstine issued a statement following news that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is managing care for unauthorized migrants while actively discouraging veterans from using the community care program, designed to meet their health care needs.
While the VA has been unable to meet its existing obligations to veterans, it is instead managing medical claims for community care to unauthorized migrants.
Russ Duerstine, CVA’s Executive Director, doubled down on his comments to Fox News, who broke the story, with the following:
“The VA was created to serve the veteran, the brave men and women who served and sacrificed for our freedoms. Right now, under the Biden administration, the VA is failing our nation’s heroes.
On the one hand, veterans are suffering, and even dying, while waiting for timely health care the VA could easily provide through community care. Instead, the VA has put up obstacles and unnecessary roadblocks for veterans trying to use that program for needed care. On the other hand, the VA has paved the way for unauthorized migrants and non-citizens to easily use community care intended for veterans. This betrays the veterans who earned care through their blood, sweat, and tears.
On behalf of every veteran, CVA demands Congress urgently pass legislation that puts the veteran in charge of their own care. Not one more veteran should lose their life waiting for care while the VA focuses on priorities outside of its core mission.”
The VA’s gross misconduct revealed during the 2014 Phoenix scandal drove Congress to pass 2017 legislation designed to hold VA employees accountable for their performance and to protect whistleblowers. After years of coming up short for veterans, Congress overwhelmingly passed the VA MISSION Act in 2018, which created the Veterans’ Community Care Program, offering veterans the opportunity to use their benefits at community providers outside the VA when wait times and drive times for appointments at VA facilities are too long.
Unfortunately, the VA has not measured up in implementing the MISSION Act, too often failing to provide veterans community care choices. The VA has faced scandal for years over its mismanagement of patient scheduling systems and wait-time data, which unfairly restricts veterans from accessing community care options. As detailed in Americans for Prosperity Foundation’s FOIA complaint, publicly available records suggest the VA has been covering up wait-time numbers nationwide. The agency may be actively avoiding its obligations for transparent administration of the VA MISSION Act. Delayed care has tragic effects on the health of veterans.
Senator Blackburn’s Veterans Health Care Freedom Act (VHCFA), if passed, will rebuild the VA health care system’s foundation to work for the veteran, not the bureaucracy. Through the VHCFA, veterans can utilize their community care benefits without needing preapproval from the VA, as required under current law, removing opportunities for bureaucratic obstruction to veterans seeking the care that works best for them.