The Veterans Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act (S 2450), passed by the Senate June 11, will actually interfere with patients accessing care outside the VA system, according to health policy expert Betsy McCaughey.
McCaughey, former Lt Governor of New York, appeared before the House Veterans Affairs Committee June 12.
The bill requires that veterans seeking private care because they are on the waiting list get approval from the VA, which is renowned for its impenetrable bureaucracy, she said.
“This bill passed in the Senate yesterday, the McCain-Sanders bill, will not save the lives of vets stuck on the wait list.” — Betsy McCaughey
“This bill passed in the Senate yesterday, the McCain-Sanders bill, will not save the lives of vets stuck on the wait list. This bill as currently written is designed to protect union jobs, not ailing vets. In fact, the VA is run by unions, and largely for unions.”
The union contract (315 page PDF) between the VA and the Association of Federal Government Employees (AFGE) states, for instance, that “The parties agree that reassignment is a subject appropriate for local bargaining.” (p. 46)
Reassignment is not to be used for punishment. So if a VA employee is caught manipulating waiting lists or in other activity that ought to mean summary dismissal, nothing will happen at all.