The Senate passed the VA Mission Act of 2018 on Wednesday which provides additional funding to the Department of Veterans Affairs and makes several changes allowing Veterans more access to care. While the president and veterans praise this important step to improving healthcare for vets, labor unions aren’t as happy.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) union again voiced its displeasure as the bill heads to the president’s desk for signature.
“Once signed by President Trump, the VA MISSION Act will allow for the outsourcing of 36 health care delivery options (e.g. primary care, mental health care, spinal cord injury care) nationally,” the union said in a statement.”
The union is at-risk of losing jobs held by members to private doctors, nurses and technicians as the troubled socialized healthcare model the VA uses has struggled to meet the needs of America’s vets.
“Today is a sad day for the 9.3 million veterans who rely on the VA for their health care and for the more than 120,000 veterans who work there,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. “We are gravely concerned about the passage of the VA MISSION Act due to the creation a corporate-style, private board that will make decisions about how and when they’d like to dismantle any VA facility in the country,”
Many of the VA’s efficiency problems were linked to union-favored rules that made it nearly impossible to fire non-performing workers, but President Trump signed the “Accountability Act” last year giving VA leadership the tools needed to address worker issues by easing the pathway to demotion or dismissal – tools the union would rather they didn’t have.
“Almost 12 months ago we were in a similar situation with the growing support of the so-called ‘Accountability’ Act,” said Cox. “by voting to pass S. 2372, Congress is punting on their responsibility to care for the men and women who have served our country and are taking an extremely dangerous step toward privatization.”
Veterans see the bill entirely in a positive light.
“On behalf of Paralyzed Veterans of America members—veterans with spinal cord injury or disease—their families, and caregivers, we wish to express our deep appreciation of the efforts of Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-MT) that led to today’s final passage of the VA MISSION Act,” PVA said in a statement. “This historic legislation will result in needed changes to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA’s) delivery of health care in both the community and in VA health care facilities around the country. With the passage of this legislation, VA’s ability to serve veterans with catastrophic disabilities will remain strong.”
President Donald J. Trump applauded the U.S. Senate for voting to pass the VA MISSION Act today, an important piece of legislation that will transform the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) into a high-performing and integrated healthcare system for the 21st century and provide Veterans with more Choice in their healthcare options, whether from VA doctors or from the community.
Passing this legislation is another promise made and promise kept to Americas Veterans under President Trump’s leadership, which has provided the most substantial VA reform in a generation.