July 24, 2015
By John Quinn, LaborPress USA
Washington, DC – The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) urges Congress to take immediate action to fortify the resources for direct patient care at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). At no additional cost to taxpayers unused money in the Choice Card privatization program is available and could easily be transferred to VA hospitals. This would provide an additional hundreds of millions of dollars to our VA hospitals. Without needed funds, critical VA services may need to be curtailed.
"Our nation's heroes are counting on our elected leaders to make the right decision and put veterans' needs first," said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. "It's clear the resources allocated to the Choice Program are better spent on direct patient care provided by the VA. It's time that Congress act and fulfill the VA's request to pass legislation authorizing the transfer of funds."
Since the November inception of a choice program, only a handful of veterans have opted to seek care from private-sector providers under the controversial Choice Card privatization program. In fact, it has been used by just 3% of veterans who are eligible, or 27,000 veterans out of 700,000. Nearly nine million veterans annually receive medical services from the VA and consistently rate it very highly.
"The resources needed to meet the demands on our veterans care system are waiting to be utilized. Our nation's heroes cannot afford for any more time to be wasted. Congress must act now and authorize the transfer of unused Choice Program funds to programs that will meet the immediate needs of our nation's vets," said Cox.