McCain’s Veterans Problem

Tomorrow, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who has long claimed that he has a “perfect record” on veterans issues, will address the Disabled Veterans of America convention in Nevada.

But McCain’s poor voting record on veterans issues and his proposal to contract-out veterans health care, have estranged many prominent veterans organizations.

McCain received a grade of D from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and a 20 percent vote rating from the Disabled Veterans of America; Vietnam Veterans of America noted McCain had “voted against us” in 15 “key votes.”

After McCain suggested that the Veterans Administration should ration health care by “concentrating” its efforts on “those wounds and disabilities that are directly the result of combat,” veterans organizations across America criticized McCain. Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, said McCain “appears to want to significantly narrow the number of veterans who can use VA, and that would alarm many veterans.”


McCain’s veterans health plan is no better than his record. According to veterans groups, the proposal — which would “give veterans the option to use a simple plastic card to receive timely and accessible care at a convenient location through a provider of their choosing” — may actually undermine veterans care.

According to The Independent Budget, a report published by AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veteransof 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”:

While some service-connected veterans might seek care in the private sector as a matter of personal convenience as a result of enactment of these vouchering and privatization bills, 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 (BCMA). These unique VA features culminate in the highest quality care available, public or private. Loss of these safeguards, which are generally not available in private sector systems, would equate to diminished oversight and coordination of care, and, ultimately, may result in lower quality of care for those who deserve it most.