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IAVA Director: If McCain Thinks The VA Isn’t Working, ‘It’s In Part Because He Hasn’t Funded It’

By Ali Frick  

"IAVA Director: If McCain Thinks The VA Isn’t Working, ‘It’s In Part Because He Hasn’t Funded It’"

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reickhoff24.jpgYesterday, Sen. John McCain promoted his veterans private health care “plastic card” in a speech to the American Legion. Though he insisted the “card is not intended to either replace the VA or privatize veterans’ health care,” veterans groups aren’t buying it. AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars all argue McCain’s scheme may undermine the VA.

Today ThinkProgress spoke to Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director and Founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, at the Democratic National Convention. When we asked him what he thought of McCain’s private health card plan, Rieckhoff slammed McCain for blocking funding for the VA:

Basically every major veterans group is opposed to it so far, so I think that pretty much says it all. We’ve got to come up with a comprehensive solution to VA health care, and that starts with VA funding. Sen. McCain has consistently voted against expansion of VA funding. So if he says the VA’s not working, it’s in part because he hasn’t funded it properly. … A lot of vets groups are going to push back against the card because it may be on the path toward privatization. So we’ve got to really make the VA as strong as it can be, and that should be our priority.

Despite his repeated claims to the contrary, McCain’s record on veterans health funding is disappointing to say the least:

– Voted AGAINST providing $430 million to the VA for outpatient care “and treatment for veterans,” one of only 13 senators to do so. [4/26/06]

– Voted AGAINST increasing VA funding by $1.5 billion by closing corporate loopholes. [3/14/06]

– Voted AGAINST increasing VA funding by $1.8 billion by ending “abusive tax loopholes.” [3/10/04]

McCain can try to convince veterans groups that he opposes privatization, but considering his disdain for government-sponsored health care, it’s no surprise he wants to put veterans health into the hands of private business.

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