Should vets have the option of private care?

An intruiging plan from Maryland GOP Rep. Andy Harris, who suggests that veterans be given the option of being treated at private sector facilities rather than the VA when they first enter the system.

The idea has many benefits. In fact, about the only downside is that Democrats - and some Republicans - will oppose it.


“I’m going to describe a system where we begin to decompress the VA health care system, which is obviously overburdened, and begin to consider offering veterans who are newly assigned to the VA the benefit option of going to the private system and being taken care of in their local hospitals instead of in the VA system,” Harris told “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday.

Harris said he is qualified to address the issue as a doctor and a former member of the Navy medical corps.

“During my training, I did time in a VA hospital,” Harris said. “I understand the military and the VA health system and I understand why the VA system is a bureaucratic mess.”

Harris said that his plan would benefit veterans who live far from VA centers, as well as cutting costs.

“The VA budget has roughly tripled in the past 12 years, including the VA health budget,” Harris said. “When you look at the numbers, we’re paying more for veterans and those priority one veterans in the VA system then we would if we bought them, for instance, a silver level plan on the Obamacare exchange.”

Health care costs across the board are rising so I'm not sure how much money we'll save by giving vets the option of private care. The important point is that they will probably get better and more timely care in the private sector than if the government is caring for them. No doubt there would be an extra paperwork burden for private facilities who care for vets. But there would still be profits to be made and the incentive to care for vets in a timely manner would benefit everyone.

Democrats will accuse Republicans of trying to "privatize" the VA health care system, which is true to a point. But giving some competition to the VA just might be what's needed to spur reform and get them to clean up their act and start treating our veterans with the care and dignity they deserve.


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