Should we privatize the Department of Veterans Affairs?
via AP

Should we privatize the Department of Veterans Affairs?

#NoPrivateVA
#PrivatizeTheVA
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Former Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David J. Shulkin wrote a New York Times op-ed arguing that privatizing the VA., and the health care services it provides, would hurt the well-being of our veterans. But recent reports of fly-infested V.A. operating rooms have many demanding we do better for our veterans. Conservatives have long argued privatizing the VA is a common-sense solution that would solve a majority of the department's ongoing problems by ensuring accountability. What do you think? 🎖️
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#NoPrivateVA
#PrivatizeTheVA

The Department of Veterans Affairs has long been the source of debate for lawmakers, but recent reports of a fly infestation at one VA facility have many demanding we do better for our veterans.

The West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, which is no stranger to controversy, is the latest VA facility shown to have a serious problem with flies in its surgical suites. According to entomologists, phorid flies, such as those verified to be problematic in LA, are “attracted to open wounds... where they look to lay eggs. They can also transmit dirt, bacteria and other unsavory morsels, causing increased health risks to the already wounded.”

Veterans fought and died for this country. They deserve the best medical services we have to offer. Asking any veteran to seek treatment at a facility that is unsanitary and full of flies is a disgrace, and some believe privatizing the VA could solve many of these problems. 

But in a powerful New York Times op-ed, former VA Secretary David J. Shulkin argues the Trump administration's desire to privatize the VA will only hurt veterans.

I believe differences in philosophy deserve robust debate, and solutions should be determined based on the merits of the arguments. The advocates within the administration for privatizing V.A. health services, however, reject this approach. They saw me as an obstacle to privatization who had to be removed. That is because I am convinced that privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans.

Shulkin believes the VA has become a pawn in advancing the political agendas of some without regard for the veterans it is meant to serve, and turning the department over to the private sector would only worsen the problem. With regard to health care, in particular, Shulkin notes the private health care system already fails to serve many communities as is, and adding military veterans with unique needs to the mix will only make things worse.

The private sector, already struggling to provide adequate access to care in many communities, is ill-prepared to handle the number and complexity of patients that would come from closing or downsizing V.A. hospitals and clinics, particularly when it involves the mental health needs of people scarred by the horrors of war.

Simply put, the private sector is ill-equipped to meet the needs of veterans. The VA should operate solely to serve our troops and not motivated by profit or special interest groups. 

But others argue privatizing the VA is just common sense. Former Congressman John Linder (R-GA) argues it is actually the VA that is ill-equipped to meet veterans' needs, and the private sector would do a much better job at providing quality care to the people who deserve it most.

The VA should be privatized because government simply doesn’t see individuals. Government sees groups.
Government bureaucrats work for their boss. Whether the program is food stamps, farm subsidies or veterans’ care, the individual at the receiving end of the program is merely the means to an end. The end is the pay and the bonus. If the boss is pleased, you will be rewarded.

Veterans fought and served our country, and should be able to access the best healthcare options available. An individual veteran should be allowed to make that decision for him or herself. The government can play a role in treatment for veterans, but so can the private sector. In areas where the government comes up short, why not have the private sector fill in?

There is a role for the government in veterans’ healthcare. It is not the common cold, gall bladder surgery or dentures. Not even cancer. There are private facilities with newer tools and techniques that are better equipped for patient care... The government’s role in veterans’ care should then be focused entirely on matters that are the result of war. Traumatic brain injury, amputations, post-traumatic stress and the rehabilitation from those injuries are unique and special, and we should dedicate the entire medical resources of our government toward improving the lives of the wounded and their families.
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