Legislation pending in Congress would allow for veterans who can't get medical help through the VA system to use private healthcare facilities, but the head of the House Veterans Affairs Committee says they already can — and the VA is hiding it.
"They have the ability to go out and receive outside care, outside of the VA system," Rep. Jeff Miller said Thursday on Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto."
The Veterans Administration does allow sick veterans to access private hospitals and doctors in select areas, he said, but generally doesn't let it be known.
In fact, the VA hospital in Phoenix, Arizona,
where the current wait-time scandal first came to light, was allowing private medical care, the Florida Republican told Cavuto.
"The former director of that facility was bemoaning the fact that they had spent $8 million in care outside of their facility," Miller said. "In fact, they should have been saying we provided $8 million of care to the veterans. It wasn't a hit to their budget."
The current legislation "pretty much mandates" the VA allow private care when it isn't available through its system, Miller said.
Miller also told Cavuto that he met with Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson on Wednesday and warned him that if the agency doesn't provide information it has requested through subpoena, Congress will get a federal court order.
Though Republicans have been critical of what they call overuse of executive orders by President Barack Obama, Miller said he would support Obama if he decided to issue an order allowing for VA employees to be fired if it was determined they caused harm to veterans by essentially denying them care.
But he wasn't optimistic of seeing such and executive order.
"I promise you, this president will not give the authority for anybody to fire somebody that the unions don't approve," he said.
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