The idea of privatization has gained steam since allegations of a wait-list at a VA facility in Phoenix were exposed last month, but the concept has been posed for years by conservative lawmakers, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in 2008 and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who both faced a backlash from such groups as the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Last week, McCain, a Vietnam veteran, began working on a plan with GOP Sens. Richard Burr, N.C., and Tom Coburn, Okla., to allow veterans to receive health care outside the VA system.
The plan comes at the same time conservatives have suggested a program in which veterans could use vouchers to pay for treatment at private facilities
OK, this is what drives me bonkers about Washington. Politicians don’t bother looking at what existing programs they can easily modify to meet a need.
Apparently their creative instincts are only satisfied by starting from scratch with something new and complicated. Veterans over 65 can already use a “voucher” to pay for treatment at private facilities. Its called a Medicare card. What’s even more obvious and on point, the Dept of Veterans Affairs already has its own Medicare-like (but without the premiums) voucher program that pays for private treatment, its called CHAMPVA. Give every veteran a CHAMPVA card, problem solved.
CHAMPVA is a single payer system (generally paying the same rates as Medicare) for the families of severely disabled veterans. Even vets so seriously disabled their families qualify for CHAMPVA must themselves go to the nearest VA hospital for treatment, which is kind of odd really. Just today, the wife of an Air Force veteran was telling me when they lived in Alaska her husband needed surgery, the VA told him he’d have to fly to Seattle for the operation (fortunately his job had health benefits and he just had it done in Anchorage). That’s just crazy.
Like I said, give every vet a CHAMPVA card. Then after we wait a decent interval to see that the rocks won’t melt and the sea won’t burn, give every American a card.