VA Scandal Being Used To Push Privatization Of VA Health Care Services
May 26, 2014 • 9:18AM

The truthful response to the scandal about waiting lists for appointments and the resulting denial of medical care at Veterans Affairs medical centers should be to put the spotlight on the Obama Administration’s Wall Street-dictated policies of denial of health care to the entire population through Obamacare and vicious budget-cutting austerity. This would put the attention where it belongs, on Obama, and help to build the pressure for his removal. Instead, right-leaning Republicans appear to be using the scandal to promote a different, equally dangerous, agenda.

This alternative agenda was indicated, for example, by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who told the Columbus Post-Dispatch that 20 years ago, he floated the idea of privatizing the VA, an idea that was "soundly rejected" by veterans’ organizations. "I still like the idea, and especially now," Boehner said, although he cautioned against rushing into it "until we understand what’s happening and until we understand whether it can be fixed or how it can be fixed, all veterans seeking care shouldn’t have to wait." He added that he didn’t know how bad the problem is, but "my sense is, it’s worse than what we know."

Also, yesterday, veteran news columnist Tom Philpott, writing in Stars & Stripes, warned against those cynically using the scandal for political purposes, singling out, in particular, a group called Concerned Veterans for America. The CVA, Philpott writes, poses as a veterans’ advocacy organization but is frequently quoted in the press without mention of the reports that its major funding source is the billionaire, right-wing Koch Brothers who are using it to push their own neo-conservative agenda against "big government." The long-established veterans’ groups "worry that CVA’s arguments, over time, will give politicians cover to cut VA funding severely or even to dismantle much of the VA health care system," which would lead--though Philpott doesn’t say it outright--to the conclusion that Boehner floated to the Post Dispatch, that is, privatization. He also doesn’t say that by focussing on the particulars of problems at the VA, and by vicious partisan attacks on VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, the CVA and similarly aligned groups are actually protecting the genocidal agenda which informs the policies of the Obama Administration.

Meanwhile, Shinseki announced yesterday that the VA will allow more veterans to seek care in the private sector in parts of the country where the VA is not able to expand its own capacity. This is something else that the GOP has been demanding, but in the environment of Obamacare, it hardly seems to be an improvement.