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Vets Groups Irked by Health Bill Designed to Bypass VA Care

Image: Vets Groups Irked by Health Bill Designed to Bypass VA Care
Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo. (Julia Moss/AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 22 November 2017 09:54 PM

Two veterans groups are gearing up to battle new legislation that would allow vets to bypass the VA and get taxpayer-funded medical treatment from private doctors, Stars and Stripes reported.

The Veterans of Foreign War, which represents 1.3 million vets, and AMVETS, with 250,000 members, blasted the bill introduced Tuesday by Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo. – calling it "misguided" and charging it would "starve the VA of needed resources," Stars and Stripes reported.

The Lamborn bill mirrors a plan from the Koch political network-affiliated Concerned Veterans for America to create a government-chartered organization to operate a veterans health insurance system, the military news outlet reported.

"We hope that it has absolutely no chance of becoming law," Carlos Fuentes, legislative director for the VFW, told Stars and Stripes.

AMVETS director Joe Chenelly, in a statement, called the Lamborn bill "insulting."

"Lawmakers know to work with veterans organizations when addressing veterans issues," Chenelly said. "When they don't, it is not only unwise, it is insulting to the millions of veterans we represent."

He also criticized the bill as "for profit," and charged it would "starve the VA of needed resources."

The Lamborn bill comes at a time when Congress is deciding on major changes to the role of private-sector treatment in veterans’ health care — including legislation from the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, headed by Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., Stars and Stripes reported.

"In terms of how this all plays out, Roe has the right intentions and is working on a very good bill," Fuentes said. "Our hope is Congress does not get distracted by these misguided and not well-thought-out proposals and really focus on providing care to veterans through proposals like the one the chairman is working on."

Dan Caldwell, executive director for Concerned Veterans for America, countered those arguments in an op-ed piece posted by The Hill, praising the Lamborn bill as transformative.

"We can't leave the VA medical system in its current state and expect results to improve for our veterans," Caldwell wrote. "This is a historic opportunity to finally go beyond the failed status quo at the VA and provide veterans with the best care possible."

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The Veterans of Foreign War, which represents 1.3 million vets, and AMVETS, with 250,000 members, blasted the bill introduced Tuesday by Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo. – charging it would "starve the VA of needed resources," Stars and Stripes reported.
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Wednesday, 22 November 2017 09:54 PM
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