Politicians love to talk about helping the vets. Many tout how much they and their office personally help veterans deal with the VA and get medical care. Think about that for second. Many veterans are having so much trouble dealing with the VA that they feel they need to personally harangue their Representative's office to leverage some muscle to get the care they require and were promised. Rep. Brian Mast in Florida has gone so far as to open one of his offices INSIDE the local VA facility to deal with the problem. The sad thing is given the state of the VA at present, that's almost a sensible thing to do. It's only a little bit ironic (OK maybe a lot) that the very people expending massive amounts of personal resources for vets in their district are the very, and only, people who could just fix the problem. Again, think about that. Every Representative spends a good deal of their constituent services (hopefully) strong-arming the VA to provide better healthcare - a telltale sign that the VA isn't providing anywhere near the requisite level of care. And they're the very people responsible and ultimately accountable for that poor care. Bit of a Catch-22.
So instead of talking about how much my office would engage in fisticuffs with the VA on behalf of local vets (which of course I'll do until the problem is fixed) - let's talk about how we can make it so vets don't need a Representative's office to get treated in the first place. My ideal situation is that after a short time in Congress, no veteran in the United States EVER feels that they need the intervention of an elected official to get medical care - because they'll just be getting it without problems in the first place.
I want to phase out most of the VA. The VA is subject to the same downsides as any bloated government-run institution. It is terrible at rationing limited resources, it has become a den of patronage and rent-seeking, it generally has far lower standards for medical practitioners than civilian practices, and it's generally unaccountable when it fails to adequately care for vets.
Why don't we just roll most of veterans' medical care in with a larger Swiss-style Universal multi-payer scheme (more on how we can accomplish that on my website under Healthcare), where the government merely regulates and subsidizes the individual to purchase their own care? We can allow for veteran-specific insurance options and subsidize it more or entirely. Here's what I propose.
1. Implement a medium-term phase out of most of the VA: Transition to the new system within 10 years or so.
2. Retain certain portions of the VA that deal with veteran-specific medical issues unlikely to be commercially viable. This would probably include things like PTSD or combat-related injuries. We could retain these within a scaled-down VA or roll it into the active-duty medical system - the latter being preferable.
3. Immediately expand the Choice program: The Choice program is a bit of a pilot for what I'm proposing. I want to immediately expand the Choice program to allow all VA beneficiaries anywhere to simply get their care out in the community, regardless of whether or not the VA can provide that care within a certain timeframe. This would allow vets to take care of most of their medical needs from civilian practitioners locally at no cost to them.
4. Create veteran-specific private insurance categories within my larger healthcare proposal: We can just allow for civilian insurance that the government fully subsidizes as we phase out the rest of the VA. In doing so, we must ensure that no vet pays a cent more than what they pay now - if the VA is free for you, private insurance will be 100% subsidized as well.
My plan makes the most of what government does well and the most of what the private market does well. The government will subsidize and regulate to ensure that we're honoring our commitment to veterans and providing them with the care they need. Private medicine will ensure that that care isn't terrible and you don't need a caseworker at your doctor's appointment to have a shot at care.
Don't settle for politicians that promise to merely fight the VA for veterans. They're quite literally the supreme lawmaking body in the United States that dictates what the VA is and how it works. Our politicians have created a monster in the VA, and now are, in their infinite grace, offering to fight it for you. I'll fight to rid ourselves of the beast.