Obama: Privatizing VA healthcare would be 'breach of covenant'

At the Disabled Veterans Convention in Atlanta the President eschewed radical proposals alluded to by Donald Trump and touted the improvements made in VA healthcare.
By Jessica Davis
10:32 AM

President Barack Obama refuted Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s desire to push Veterans Affairs toward privatization and declared the government’s ‘sacred covenant’ with its veterans.

“Here’s the one thing we cannot do: We cannot outsource and privatize healthcare for American’s veterans,” Obama said at the conference of Disabled American Veterans in Atlanta on Monday. “These radical proposals would begin to dismantle the veterans health system.”

To do so, he stressed, would be a ‘breach of our covenant’ with veterans. There are people who keep pressing for this radical proposal, but studies have shown the quality of VA healthcare is often better than private care.

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Obama also highlighted improvements made to the system. The backlog of veterans’ benefits claims that had surged to over 600,000 about four years ago, is now at 80,000 - an approximate 90 percent reduction. The result of which, the President said, is veterans are receiving the care and benefits they deserve without having to waits years to get it.

The VA has hired more doctors, nurses and other clinicians, Obama said. It has also open more clinics in response to the latest scandal on the extremely long wait times for VA service. Benefits are now available for more than 2 million veterans, who before didn’t have access, while telemedicine has improved access to veterans in rural areas.

While serious strides have been made, however, Obama explained there is serious work to be done to overcome the remaining shortcomings. His successor must make improvements in mental healthcare for veterans, while working with Congress to reduce the time for processing claims and appeals.

Obama even saved a few moments to challenge Republicans to do something to help our veterans and rebuked Trump, who recently called the military a disaster.

“As commander in chief, I’m pretty tired of some folks trash-talking America’s military and troops,” Obama said. “We have the most capable fighting force in history and we’re going to keep it that way.”

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com

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