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VIDEO: Ocasio-Cortez says VA isn’t broken – it’s ‘Cadillac, first class’ healthcare

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) at Women's March on NYC 2019. (Dimitri Rodriguez/Flickr)
April 24, 2019

There’s nothing wrong with the current structure or quality of veteran healthcare delivered by the Department of Veteran Affairs in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s eyes.

She made the declaration last week during a town hall speech in her New York district, declaring that privatization of VA healthcare was an unnecessary move because the current system already consists of “some of the highest quality” healthcare in the nation.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Ocasio-Cortez said about the VA.

Watch her remarks in the video below:

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“They’re opening an approach that we’ve seen when it comes to privatization,” she explained. “It’s the idea that this thing that isn’t broken, this thing that provides some of the highest quality care to our veterans, somehow needs to be fixed, optimized, tinkered with, until we don’t even recognize it.”

“Here’s the thing, they are trying to fix it. But who are they are trying to fix it for, is the question we gotta ask… They are trying to fix the VA for pharmaceutical companies, they are trying to fix the VA for insurance corporations, and, ultimately, they are trying to fix the VA for a for-profit healthcare industry that does not put people or veterans first,” she said.

Ocasio-Cortez’s comments take aim at efforts made by the Trump Administration to expand privatization options for veterans’ healthcare, especially through the MISSION Act signed by President Trump in 2018, which streamlined programs, and expanded eligibility and infrastructure.

“We have a responsibility to protect it. If there is any community that deserves Cadillac, first class healthcare in the United States of America, it is our military service members,” she said.

“If we really want to fix the VA so badly, let’s start hiring, and fill up some of those 49,000 [staff] vacancies,” she added, according to the Washington Examiner.

Ocasio-Cortez also said, “If you ask me, I would like VA for all.”

However, the “Cadillac, first class healthcare” Ocasio-Cortez referred to is the same system that saw 40 veterans die while waiting for appointments at one VA center alone in 2014, CNN had reported at the time.

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It’s the same system that left Marine veteran Brian Tally with an undiagnosed bone-eating staph infection that left him with various related detriments and permanent disability.

“Putting our veterans first means making sure they are at the center of any reform efforts. That is exactly what the administration did with the VA MISSION Act – put the veteran ahead of the bureaucracy,” Dan Caldwell, executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, told Fox News.

“The VA is structured for a veteran population that has fundamentally changed from when it was built. Policy reforms should fundamentally change with the population and the times. When the resources follow the veteran, the veteran wins,” Caldwell continued.

“When resources go to prop up an aging and outdated bureaucracy, the veteran loses. It’s not about ‘fixing’ the VA, rather it is about making sure the focus of the VA is on the veteran, not itself,” he said.