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Op-Ed: The proposed integration of VA and private health care systems

July 03, 2017

All opinion articles are the opinion of the author and not necessarily of American Military News.

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On Tuesday, June 20, the VA Secretary stated that he plans to integrate health care services with the private health care system. The Secretary reiterated that he does not support “privatization” of VA services.

Secretary David Shulkin believes that VA services should be built up in areas where private services are lacking and that the private services should do likewise in areas where VA services are lacking.

This idea looks great on paper; but, is it doable? Will the private sector agree to expand their services in areas where VAs services are lacking?


This is a Herculean effort to provide quick, adequate care for Veterans, but how long will it take – several years?

Will the CARE Program be quick-started to take care of the Veterans while this integration is being put into place? Will the President’s budget accommodate the funding requirements for such a gigantic effort? The VA certainly cannot be expected to fund this effort using the PAYGO system.

Satellite VA Outpatient Clinics will require considerable expansion if they are going to be able to include Specialty Clinics that would provide care for eyes, hearing, and dental.

If the government takes on this proposed integration of services, the VA patients should not complain about losing the inadequate VA Beneficiary Travel Reimbursement Program and the “pittance” they are presently receiving. Discontinuing the VA’s current travel pay program would free up more than a billion dollars, annually.

If this proposal is approved, the VA must get its proposed CARE program up and running ASAP, or risk untimely deaths of Veterans in need of proper care.

Hopefully, Veterans will use this veteran’s opinions as a “sounding board” for their comments regarding such a grandiose plan for integration of health care services between the VA and the private health care systems.

Secretary Shulkin needs to know what the Veterans think about this integration plan.


Brooks Outland is a Korean and Vietnam war veteran. He volunteered to serve in Vietnam because he was keen to help the people of South Vietnam keep their freedom and their country from communist takeover by the North. After retiring, Brooks and his wife spent eight years volunteering aboard his old battleship, the USS Missouri (BB-63), before returning to the mainland in Arkansas in 2015.