Letter to the Editor: AFGE responds to Rep. Roe’s comments on VA

Elements within the Veterans Affairs Department are pushing drastic privatization and the dismantling of the only health care system tailored to our nation’s veterans — that’s a fact.

The Koch brothers’ advocacy organization, Concerned Veterans for America, has been trying to weaken and starve the VA for years. And President Donald Trump’s reliance on their guidance highlights the reality of shoving veterans out the door to wait in line at private, for-profit hospitals for inferior, fragmented care ill-suited to veterans’ complex needs.

House Veterans Affairs’ Committee Chairman Rep. Phil Roe’s statement this morning on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin ignores solid evidence that the VA provides veterans with better care than the private sector. Rep. Roe (R-Tenn.) tries to sidestep his privatization effort by ignoring the privatization aspect of his bill, citing misleading figures that pit the services owed to our nation’s heroes against dollars and cents. The figures he and the VA are pushing don’t even add up.

Sure, the VA’s budget has grown over the last 20 years, but the statement — which he first made in a VA press release last month — conveniently ignores inflation, the massive growth in patient population, programs and services offered.

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That doesn’t even consider rising prescription drug costs, two million more veterans with service connected disabilities today than in 1998, or the rise in health care and insurance costs. We are facing an onslaught of half-truths so private, for-profit providers can make a buck off the backs of the men and women who served this country.

It’s time we wise up before it’s too late.