Recently, opponents of commonsense VA reforms have claimed the department and veterans would be better served by limiting veterans access to non-VA care and instead pouring more money into an already bloated VA system.
Two VA experts, Darin Selnick and Brooks Tucker, responded to such misplaced suggestions in The Hill.
In what has become an all-too-common trope in Washington, some continue to think that throwing more taxpayer dollars at a problem and centralizing control over major programs is the best solution for the very decentralized and unique taxpayers they claim to serve with these “solutions.”
The VA has been a frustrating and demoralizing bureaucracy for veterans since long before the Phoenix VA scandal uncovered the inflexibility and insensitivity of a bureaucracy-first mindset and lack of accountability. Wait times at the VA were excruciatingly long and veterans were getting sick and even dying while they waited. And while the Veterans Choice Program and the subsequent VA MISSION Act – programs aimed to address the issue – are not perfect, they represent a huge stride forward in implementing a veteran-first approach to veteran health care.
Selnick and Tucker argued that more flexibility and options in health care are better for veterans and put them at the center of their health care. Shutting down access to non-VA care is dangerous.
The VA’s number one priority should be the wellbeing of the veterans it was created to serve, not the VA’s own self-serving interests. Creating more avenues for veterans to access care is the best way to ensure veterans can get quality care in a timely manner. It may not be a perfect solution, but it is a better one that honors the social contract our country made with those veterans when they agreed to serve.
Undoing the VA MISSION Act and eliminating community care options would take us back to the days of the Phoenix VA scandal, when veterans had no choice but to get in line, wait their turn, and hope they didn’t die before their number was called.
Read the rest of Selnick and Tucker’s piece in The Hill.