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Be wary: A privatized VA won’t be a better VA

As the Sept. 6 op-ed on VA privatization points out, the president is bent on privatizing everything he can get his hands on, from the Veterans Administration Health Services (VAHS) to the U.S. Postal Service. Privatization primarily benefits major corporations and their executives, who then send money to politicians running for office, swelling their campaign funds.

Privatization does not necessarily improve efficiency, quality or save taxpayer money. The cost of privatization has to include the additional expenses of operating businesses at a profit to benefit stockholders or owners, which includes the cost of advertising, public relations and political support, none of which exist when these functions are handled by not-for-profit government and quasi-government entities such as school boards.

Veterans prefer receiving medical, dental and hospital services from the VA rather than private-sector agencies. VA physicians, dentists and other medical providers and hospitals are universally highly appreciated by the millions of veterans who receive them, often on a regular, ongoing basis. Friends of mine have told me that they love their VA doctors and the high level of quality care they receive.

The VA is the largest provider of training for medical, dental and other health professionals in the U.S. If these invaluable programs were eliminated, there would be such a loss in medical and dental specialists and other providers the federal government would have to provide money to incentivize additional training programs in the private sector or people would have to wait months, perhaps years, for necessary medical appointments due to a lack of providers.

VA hospitals maintain reciprocal relationships with the military, medical and dental schools for shared research, training, service and facility utilization. With privatization, those valuable relationships may cease to the detriment of the military and the medical and dental schools which participated, leading to increased costs for the military and institutions, which may need to be financed by the government.

As proud Vietnam-era veterans – we don’t consider ourselves suckers or losers – we don’t want to see the VAHS become another insurance company rather than a provider of high-quality health care that best serves the specialized needs of our nation’s beloved veterans. Privatization simply takes tax dollars out of the VA and puts them into the pockets of millionaires and billionaires. This exact sentiment applies to the post office equally and particularly to Mr. DeJoy, who is one of those billionaires who would directly benefit from the privatization of the post office, a huge conflict of interest if there ever were one.

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