FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Democrats Exploiting Veterans to Grow Government
Unlike many modern-day functions of the federal government, caring for our wounded warriors is a core responsibility. But as is the case with other government programs, liberals think that doubling down on a woefully inadequate VA system and throwing more money at the problem will improve care for veterans. And similar to most other big government initiatives, Democrats are now using a highly-respected group of Americans as political human shields to obfuscate the harmful effects of their policies.
After 50 years so-called war on poverty, and after flushing roughly $20 trillion in inflation-adjusted spending on mean-tested programs, the poverty rate has increased from 14.7 percent to 16 percent. Yet, liberals want to invest even more in the same failed programs in order to create dependency and perpetuation of their own power. So they dub any opponent of their failed policies as working against “the poor.”
The same applies to their use of children to justify the failure of our endless federal education spending. As the Cato Institute notes, inflation-adjusted spending for a complete K-12 education has tripled since 1970 while educational scores have remained stagnant. Yet, Republicans have always been reluctant to push for real reform by devolving authority of education to the states because they don’t want to be “anti-children.”
This week, Democrats plan to take their exploitation show down the road and blow up the VA system – all to help veterans. They know that as long as they shout “veteran” in a crowded theater, their opponents will run for the hills. The Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits Pay Restoration Act S. 1982, sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (Socialist-VT), will expand and overburden the already-fledgling VA system and jeopardize the quality and access of healthcare for wounded veterans.
Under current law, all wounded veterans are fully covered under the VA healthcare system. All those who leave active duty remain in the system for a few years until they transition into new coverage in civilian life. But every veteran is potentially eligible for VA services – even those without disabilities – as long as they agree to co-pays. The VA has a tier system to prioritize service to those who suffered a disability or are most in need of the care.
The Sanders bill would make two major changes: 1) it would expand full VA coverage even to those who have no disability if they get their insurance through an Obamacare exchange. Thus, the potential addition of millions more in the system would prevent the VA from prioritizing those who are wounded in combat or suffered a disability through their tour of duty. 2) the bill will expand the scope of coverage for veterans to include gym membership, weight loss programs.
Let’s step back for a moment and analyze the repercussions of the bill. Despite an increased budget from $85 billion to over $138 billion since 2008, the VA is as dysfunctional and woefully inadequate as ever. According to the Washington Examiner, VA hospitals have, once again, been caught falsifying records in order to cover up the scandalous backlogs in care. Now, Democrats are proposing to clog the system of poorly treated wounded veterans with millions more of lesser priority. There is no way they could ever build enough facilities quickly enough to properly care for the exponential increase in responsibility – effective immediately.
CBO estimates that this bill will cost over $23 billion, but it is hard to imagine that placing millions more into single-payer healthcare would not cost hundreds of billions more.
Instead of exacerbating a failing system, we need to streamline the bureaucracy of the VA and structurally reform the programs before we waste more money. In the long-term, we need to look at opening up the VA system to competition from the private sector. The federal government must definitely take care of our veterans, but locking them into a government-run bureaucracy is not doing them any favors. The VA is a superlative example of the failures of government-run healthcare, and our wounded warriors deserve better.
We need a system that fully pays for disabled veterans to purchase private health insurance and other healthcare services while subsidizing other veterans in varying degrees based on time and scope of service. Liberal demagogues taint a voucher system as throwing veterans out in the cold, but it is actually their failed policies that are underserving them. Besides, why should our veterans be confined to a limited array of healthcare providers and have to drive hours to a VA facility when they need care? We would always have military hospitals for those who are severely wounded in action or have sustained wounds unique to a war theater, but the general population of veterans would be better served in a private healthcare system.
A private option for veterans would not only save money and reduce the size of the government, but more importantly, it would deliver better quality and faster care to our wounded warriors. Together with general free market healthcare reforms, it would reduce the need for veterans to be dependent on government – the antithesis of the Democrat approach.