The Trump administration is working on a plan that would seriously erode the quality and availability of health care for military veterans. Veterans groups are in revolt over the move.
The plan by VA Secretary David Shulkin — concocted without congressional input — is to merge the Department of Veterans Affairs’ VA Choice health system with private elements of the military’s TRICARE system.
Because TRICARE uses private doctors and hospitals, many veterans who currently are helped by federally owned VA clinics and medical centers would be shuttled into the private system, which is designed to cover troops and military families, not veterans.
Veterans groups are blasting the plan.
Iraq War veteran Will Fischer of VoteVets said in a statement that the plan is “insane,” adding, “To mash-up their care, just so you can further privatize it, hurts our veterans and our troops.”
The privatization of veterans’ care is something that billionaire conservative financiers Charles and David Koch have pushed for years.
Fischer noted, “The Kochs are so desperate to pawn our heroic veterans over to the for-profit system, that they’re just tossing darts against a wall, and calling it a plan.”
Bob Wallace, executive director of Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Washington office, told the Associated Press, “The VFW would oppose any effort to erode the system specifically created to serve the health care needs of our nation’s veterans.”
Louis Celli of The American Legion pointed out that TRICARE originally promised retirees free care at military bases, but now their costs are rising. He fears that under the Trump plan, this could happen to veterans, and says that is “not something we would accept.”
The American Legion previously slammed the Trump administration’s move towards privatization. Reacting to the administration’s proposed 2018 budget, which included a plan to expand the VA Choice Card Program, the Legion called it an “unacceptable” attack on veterans’ benefits.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Friday slammed the Trump administration’s plan. “The Koch brothers must not be allowed to realize their goal of dismantling our veterans’ and servicemembers’ health care, forcing them to pay out of pocket for the benefits they have earned with their heroism.”
Attacking veterans’ health care is just the latest attempt by Trump to denigrate men and women serving the country in uniform.
Earlier this fall, Trump ordered soldiers into what turned out to be an ambush in Niger, and has tried to deflect blame for the incident ever since. He even attacked the family and widow of one of the slain soldiers.
Trump and congressional Republicans also just made it easier for banks and other financial institutions to rip off veterans, ignoring pleas from veterans groups in the process.
Trump has attacked the American military — both active and retired — from multiple angles, while claiming loudly to be an advocate for their well-being. Now, he’s trying to cut off their health care and sell it to the Koch brothers.