“It is truly stunning that nearly a year after the scandal of VA health care was first uncovered, President Obama used his long-overdue visit to the Phoenix VA to announce the creation of yet another advisory committee to study the problem.
“The truth is that while thousands of Arizona veterans continue to experience unacceptable delays in VA care, the Obama Administration has been slow and reluctant to fundamentally reform VA operations, including implementation of the vitally important Choice Card program. And today’s roundtable, to which leading Veterans Service Organizations were not even invited, served more as a photo-op for the president than it did a meaningful discussion of the challenges our veterans continue to face in getting the timely health care they have earned and deserve.
“At the roundtable with President Obama today, I questioned the Administration’s obvious foot-dragging on fully funding and implementing the VA reform law that he enacted just a few months ago, which is essential to delivering better health care to America’s veterans. I am especially concerned about his proposal to reallocate funding away from the Veterans Choice Program to other programs within the VA bureaucracy. In my view, this is a signal that the Administration is giving-up on reform before it even begins. Further, of the 10,000 Arizona veterans eligible for the Choice Card, only 500 have been able to make appointments at non-VA health care facilities in over four months since the VA reform legislation was enacted. It is clear that the VA’s narrow interpretation of veterans’ eligibility to use the Choice Card is preventing them from gaining the flexibility in care they need.
“The American people—and veterans in particular—should be as unimpressed by the President’s high-profile but empty gesture today as I am. Our veterans chose to fight on our behalf, so why can’t we give them choice and flexibility in health care? I will never stop fighting to ensure our veterans have timely, quality, health care they’ve earned and deserve.”