Yesterday, ThinkProgress interviewed Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) about Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) proposal to “give veterans the option to use a simple plastic card to receive timely and accessible care” outside of the VA health system.
Edwards noted that “virtually every major veterans organization in our country opposes” McCain’s Veterans Access Card Plan, and that even the new VA secretary called the plan “dangerous”:
It sounds good on the surface, but the reality is it would undermine the expertise, the credibility and the resources that we we have at our veterans hospital, where a vet knows he or she is going to be treated with special care or attention.
According to a report published by AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, contracting out health care for rural veterans on a broad scale would undermine the existing VA system, “a system of immense value to veterans”:
- “The VA’s specialized health-care programs…would suffer irreparable impact by the loss of veterans from those programs.”
- “The VA’s medical and prosthetic research program…would lose focus and purpose were service-connected and other enrolled veterans no longer present in VA health care.”
- If veterans turned to private practice, “they would lose the many safeguards built into the VA system through its patient safety program, evidence-based medicine, electronic medical records and bar code medication administration,” resulting in “lower quality of care for those who deserve it most.”
“If you look at John McCain’s record on veteran’s issues, it’s a failed one. Not according to me, but according to some of the most respected veterans organizations in America…If his record had prevailed, veterans would have poorer health care and fewer benefits than they have today,” Edwards said.