On June 30, 2016, the Commission on Care submitted its Final Report, calling for drastic and harmful changes to the current health care system for veterans. Originally created through the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACAA), the commission was assigned by Congress to study the system of care and provide recommendations after reviewing the Independent Assessment Report chartered by Congress. Unfortunately, the commission’s recommendations would neither secure adequate and accessible healthcare for current veterans, nor ensure sustainable healthcare for future veterans. Rather, the report is a less-than-subtle effort to cut up the VA into pieces and sell off services to the lowest bidder.
The report highlights the supposed long-term issues in the VHA Care System relating to staffing, facility consistency, capital needs, and health care disparities. The report also makes a major recommendation to replace the current VHA with a new entity, to be known as the VHA Care System. In the proposed VHA Care System, Veterans would be permitted to receive care from any local facility or provider who has been credentialed by VHA. Additionally, oversight for veterans’ healthcare would be handed over to a newly-created, external governance board. This slash and sell approach to veterans’ healthcare is fundamentally wrong, and we have strong reservations about these flawed recommendations.
As affirmed in the Final Report’s introduction, RAND’s 2015 evaluation, RAND’s 2016 summary and a 2016 literature review of 60 scientific publications, the current VHA system provides healthcare that is as good as, and more often superior to, nonVA care. It outperforms non-VA care on adherence to recommended preventative care guidelines, adherence to recommended treatment guidelines, outpatient processes and outpatient outcomes. Nevertheless, the Commission’s Final Report ignores the implication that vastly expanding reliance on local non-VA providers and facilities could worsen, not improve, veterans’ health care. Rather than outsourcing veteran care to non-specialized caregivers, Congress should be focusing on providing the needed resources to meet the demands of the increasingly complex set of emotional and physical ailments veterans face.
“NFFE completely and utterly condemns the Commission on Care Final Report,” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. “Their recommendations are but thinly-veiled attempts to increase the profits of private health care providers on the backs of our nations’ veterans. NFFE will not stand by and watch these setbacks be implemented; we will work tirelessly to ensure this gutting of the VA, which would do nothing but hurt veterans, never takes place. Our cherished veterans deserve better than this.”