On June 5, 2019, an even wider avenue of options was opened for our nation’s veterans. Long awaited changes and updates within the Department of Veteran Affairs have made much progress on improving the quality and accessibility of healthcare from established providers. With the implementation of the VA MISSION Act, veterans will now have more options for private-sector healthcare.
And yet, some Democrats pushed back hard on these new policies. In a nearly party-wide push to create a single-payer insurance model in the U.S., there have been widespread attacks on the private sector of health insurance. With the latest move to introduce more private sector options for veterans, Democrats are crying foul and insinuating that this move is intended to fully privatize veteran healthcare.
This simply isn’t true.
On a new website published to refute the myths surrounding the MISSION Act, which gives veterans meeting certain criteria the option to seek healthcare outside of the VA’s network, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides information about the ins and outs of the policy.
“The VA MISSION Act does NOT privatize the VA health care system,” the first “mythbuster” on the MISSION Act’s website states. “The VA MISSION Act works to better integrate the VA with community health care providers, fix structural issues with the VA’s outside care programs, and ultimately improve access to care while expanding the health care options available to veterans through the VA, all while maintaining the VA’s vital healthcare infrastructure for those veterans who choose to receive care within the VA.”
Indeed, the MISSION Act was passed with bipartisan support by those who could see the farther reaching effects of giving our veterans access to better care. And a “massive exodus” to the private sector — which some Democrats have argued could cause prices to skyrocket and costs to be passed to taxpayers — is not likely. Currently, about 34 percent of veteran health appointments occur outside of the VA’s network, and those associated with the inner workings of the MISSION Act don’t anticipate this number to grow exponentially.
The MISSION Act was created to help veterans who may not have access to care through the VA, be it from living in too rural of an area or if the wait times are too delayed for urgent care. Those who meet the criteria established by VA officials can now have expanded access to services such as telehealth and other community care options such as walk-in clinics. Previously, many veterans were unable to take advantage of urgent care facilities or walk-in care clinics. This is now different, easier to access.
The budget released in June of 2019 by the Trump administration allocates up to $3.2 billion in new spending for private services to be made available to the veterans who qualify for them. This, the administration hopes, will allow the VA to ease up on wait times and potentially give veterans access to better quality care. If nothing else, options are always good to have, and it is our duty to ensure that those who fight for our ongoing freedom are treated with care when the need arises.
Democrats should focus their attacks on healthcare issues that need fixing. The VA MISSION Act was designed to help our nation’s veterans, not to create the cash cow that some opponents seem to think is the end goal. Supporting our country’s veterans is a bipartisan issue, and policies such as the MISSION Act deserve bipartisan support.