U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes
During a symposium in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 9, Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee chairman, urged attendees to be patient with the Veterans Choice program, saying that 7.5 million more appointments have been made this year than last, reports Military Times.
“A lot of people have said VA Choice is a cop-out," said Isakson. "But you just don’t provide health care to 6.5 million veterans by snapping your fingers. We don’t have the money in the federal government to provide all the health care to veterans if we wanted to. We have to empower the private sector through programs that work."
The Veterans Choice program is designed to allow veterans living more than 40 miles from a VA facility, or those who waitlisted for more than 30 days, to receive care from a private facility. However, the program faced a rocky launch earlier this year with unclearly defined parameters on distance. Veterans living in rural areas have also faced challenges finding doctors familiar with the program.
During a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee field hearing on Aug. 25, Sen. Dan Sullivan, said that: "It's been nothing less than an unmitigated failure."
However, Isakson urged patience during the symposium hosted by Military Officers Association of America.
"We are making progress,” he said. “We are a long ways from where we want to go, but we are getting there."
WASHINGTON — China is likely developing a long-range bomber capable of delivering nuclear weapons and a space-based early warning system it could use to more quickly respond to an attack, according to a new report from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.
President Donald Trump hands a pen to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie during a spending bill signing ceremony at VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System, Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Associated Press/Evan Vucci)
The Trump administration wants to shift billions of dollars from government-run veterans' hospitals to private health care providers. That's true even though earlier this year the administration vehemently denied it would privatize any part of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The privatization of essential government services is nothing new, of course. Over the years, countries have privatized dozens of services and activities that were once the sole domain of governments, such as the provision of electricity and water, road operations and prisons and even health care, with the ostensible aim of making them more efficient.
But before going down that road, the question needs to be asked whether privatizing essential human services such as those for military veterans serves the public interest. New research we recently published suggests that privatization may come at a social cost.