Sanders’ VA Bill Gives GOP A Chance To Actually Care About Veterans

Dave Johnson

Republicans in February filibustered a bill that would have given the Veterans Administration more resources to address delays at its health facilities. Then they whipped up one of their hysterical “scandals” over delays in care (that actually started under President Bush).

This week Democrats are bringing an improved version of the bill that was obstructed in February. Will Republicans vote for it this time, or kill it again?

Today, join VoteVets and Campaign for Americans Future in telling your senators to vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Restoring Veterans’ Trust Act of 2014. It addresses the problems of understaffing at the VA while allowing veterans to go outside providers if they face long delays.

The Restoring Veterans’ Trust Act of 2014

The Vermont independent senator is introducing an updated version of the VA bill that Republicans filibustered in February. This is from a fact sheet on the Restoring Veterans’ Trust Act of 2014:

THE RESTORING VETERANS’ TRUST ACT OF 2014

The Inspector General’s interim report on Patient Wait Times, Scheduling Practices, and Alleged Patient Deaths at the Phoenix Health Care System and the results of VA’s face-to-face audit raise a number of issues that must be immediately addressed. THE RESTORING VETERANS’ TRUST ACT OF 2014 would increase Department accountability and immediately improve access to health care and veterans’ benefits. Below is a summary of some of the major initiatives of this legislation.

The fact sheet lists a number of changes the bill would make, including:

  • Making it easier to remove incompetent senior executives.
  • Shortening wait times for veterans seeking care.
  • Authorizing 27 new major medical facilities in 18 states.

The Choice For Republicans

Republicans now have a chance to choose. They can decide whether to:
1) Stand up for veterans and vote for this bill that fixes the problems at the VA, or
2) Filibuster the bill again, and then complain about government services like the VA not working well after funding is cut.

You’ve seen it again and again. Republicans starve government of funding and then complain that government doesn’t work well. Their solution is always privatization; they demand government functions be privatized so a few billionaires can get even richer.

We’re seeing it done here with the VA. They cut back on funding, then complain that the VA doesn’t work well and demand privatization.

Republicans are doing the same thing to the U.S. Postal Service, requiring that it “pre-fund” 75 years of retirement – even for future employees (done at the behest of FedEx and UPS.)

Republicans across the country are doing it to public schools, starving them for funds and then demanding privatization because the schools aren’t able to do enough.

Take Action

On Tuesday, Jon Soltz, chairman of VoteVets.org, sent this email on behalf of Campaign for America’s Future and VoteVets.org to millions of Americans:

Like many veterans, when I returned home from Iraq, I sought care at a VA facility near my home.

So you can imagine why the politicization of the disclosures at the VA facility in Phoenix has gotten me down. The truth is, we’ve all known for some time that the veterans’ health system needs real reform.

And while President Obama and Secretary Shinseki have done admirable work to reduce the backlog, we’ve long needed solutions that get to the root of the problems.

This week, the U.S. Senate has a chance to take meaningful action to improve veterans’ health care, and I hope they take it this time.

Join VoteVets and Campaign for Americans Future and tell your Senators to vote for Bernie Sanders’ Restoring Veterans’ Trust Act of 2014.

Here’s what the bill does:

1. Authorizes the VA to hire new doctors and nurses, closing the gap between a growing number of veterans returning home to seek care and the number of health care professionals able to deliver it.

2. Allows the Department of Veterans Affairs to increase the number of locations delivering care by leasing twenty-seven new health facilities in eighteen states.

3. To address long-term needs, the legislation awards scholarships and forgives student debt for health care professionals willing to accept positions at the VA.

These are important steps Congress should take right now in order to improve short and long-term care for our nation’s veterans.

Tell the Senate to support the Restoring Veterans’ Trust Act of 2014.

In late February, right-wing Senators led a filibuster against similar legislation that would have struck at the root of problems within the VA system.

It’s time to end the talk and take some action.

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