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#VAFail: The VA is managing community care for unauthorized migrants while actively creating barriers for veterans seeking community care

By Concerned Veterans for America

This may be one of the worst insults to veterans since the Phoenix VA scandal of 2014. 

News recently broke that the Department of Veterans Affairs is managing community care and reimbursements for unauthorized migrants while actively keeping veterans from accessing timely, quality care. 

According to reports, Immigration and Customs Enforcement contracts with the VA’s Financial Service Center to process reimbursement claims for unauthorized migrants needing specialty or emergency care from private providers after crossing the border. 

This means the VA is spending a significant portion of time and manpower managing care for noncitizens who didn’t earn it.  

But the problem is less about who is getting the care and more about who is not. 


VA creates barriers to veterans getting care 

The VA has been standing in the way of veterans accessing timely, quality care in the community for years.  

FOIA documents revealed VA administration and staff is misleading and discouraging veterans from using their community care options when the VA can’t meet wait time standards. These practices go against the intent and letter of the VA MISSION Act — a law passed to ensure veterans have access to care when and where they need it. 

Fox News reported an internal video provided by a VA employee in which Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Health Shereef Elnahal instructed staff to “reduce our reliance on community care” and “press the easy button less with community care.” 

He added that “unless we maximize the number of veterans we see while also preventing burnout to the extent that we can, we cannot meet the mark for what veterans deserve.” 

These statements highlight how disconnected VA staff is from what veterans actually want. The department sees itself as the authority on the care, knowing what is right and wrong for veterans. It’s putting itself in the position to make decisions based on its own self-interests. 

But in reality, “meeting the mark” for veterans means putting veterans first and ensuring they have the care they need when they need it. That is what veterans deserve rather than a system that considers timely care an “easy button.”  

As if “easy” were inherently bad in the first place. Community care makes it easier for many veterans to get the care they need when they need it. Unless you’re the VA and want to keep all veterans inside the VA at whatever cost, easier access to care is a good thing. 


VA reform is a necessity 

Ironically, the VA has proven that community care is a viable option for ensuring timely access to care; they’re just offering that care to those who didn’t earn it, rather the veterans the VA is supposed to serve. 

CVA Executive Director Russ Duerstine had this to say about the news. 

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. 

CVA Senior Advisor Darin Selnick doubled down on that sentiment on Fox News in response to the reports. 

“VA’s mission is to serve veterans, not to help ICE and the border patrol,” Selnick said. “Meanwhile veterans are having a hard time getting health care; they’re literally dying because they can’t get mental health in a timely manner.” 

One such veteran who’s seen these barriers to care is also a Border Patrol agent. 

“We served in the military in this country and we have these benefits to use in the VA, and I pay an exorbitant amount of taxes to this country and I can’t even get seen for basic needs,” the agent told Fox News. “But illegals can, they can literally cross the border with all these preexisting medical injuries or illnesses or whatever they have going on, and they literally walk right into a primary care doctor or specialty care doctor and get whatever services they need.

The VA has a responsibility to ensure veterans get the care they need. That is their priority, whether they believe it or not. Our responsibility is to ensure the VA is held accountable to that mission and doesn’t mix its priorities up. 

Tell your lawmaker that veterans need to come first at the VA