Saturday, June 8, 2019

D-Day for the VHA?

On Thursday June 6, the Trump administration’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) leadership launched its new Veterans Community Care Program (VCCP). Established under the VA MISSION Act of 2018, the VCCP will outsource the care of millions of America’s most vulnerable veterans to an army of private hospitals, physicians, and other providers.

But rolling out this new initiative on anniversary of D-Day, the allied invasion of Normandy during World War II, could not be more ironic.
Seventy-five years ago, American troops were well prepared for the invasion of Normandy. Today the troops on the home front, the thousands of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, clerks, and administrative staff who have been assigned to help veterans cope with what the Trump Administration has called a “revolution” in veterans’ health care, are deeply concerned about the future stability of this new program. 
Over the course of the last two months, dozens of physicians, local VA medical center leaders, and union activists (not to mention veterans who are expected to benefit from the new options and representatives of veterans service organizations) have told the Prospect, that the VCCP is deliberately designed to set them, and the VHA, up for failure.
Consider these examples of how the program is being undermined: Under the VCCP, veterans who have to drive 30 to 60 minutes or have to wait more than 20 or 28 days for an appointment will be eligible to see private-sector doctors and hospitals. Veterans and their care providers are supposed to discuss whether moving from the VHA to private-sector care doing so is in the patient’s “best medical interest.”  

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