Nate Banks in his letter to the Journal (May 28, NM Veteran Reflects on VA Reform) talks about his experiences with local medical services in Farmington and Albuquerque. I see at the end of his letter that he has moved to Albuquerque. Likewise, many of us veterans have found the quality of medical services at the VAMC here in Albuquerque to be far superior to those in the private sector and in the rural areas.
I have used the VA medical center here – and some others in various parts of the country – for my medical needs for over 30 years now due to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. The VA has saved my life several times due to good preventative care. For years I was pleased with the quality of care at the VA – until the Choice Act and the Mission Act were started under pressure from Banks’ advocacy group. …
There are always bureaucratic problems with an agency or service as large as the VA, which has a budget larger than some countries. What I have seen is a degradation in VA care since Banks’ group, funded by the billionaire Koch Brothers foundations made a big issue of a scheduling problem to push through legislation in Congress to supposedly improve the quality of care at the VA for veterans.
What I have seen since then is the complete elimination of vital services, much longer wait times for appointments and confusion as more middlemen and private contractors have gotten involved, all who now get to take a cut out of the VA budget. I believe this has been the hidden goal of the Koch Brothers. I believe this will only get worse if the Veterans Health Care Freedom Act is passed by Congress as more of the VA budget will be diverted into an already failing for-profit private-sector-driven health-care system.
In fact, it was the VA that backed up the overwhelmed private sector hospitals as the COVID crisis unfolded and hospitals and doctors scrambled to provide care. Without the VA things would have been a lot worse.
What veterans need is more funding for the VA and a clear focus on providing care to veterans and not a smoke screen set of policies to dismantle and privatize this great medical system. We are all waiting to see what the Biden administration will do. Will he further destroy the VA medical care system with false reforms or rescue it from the right wing groups like Banks’?