Donald Trump says the Department of Veterans Affairs' health-care system is badly broken, and this week his campaign released some guidelines that would steer changes he would implement if he wins the presidency. While short on details, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee would likely push VA health care toward privatization and might move for it to become more of an insurance provider like Medicare rather than an integrated hospital system, said Sam Clovis, Mr. Trump's chief policy adviser, in an interview.
Following up on a story we've been following, it was just four years ago when Mitt Romney chose to float a provocative idea on Veterans' Day. "Sometimes you wonder," the Republican asked, "would there be some way to introduce some private sector competition" into veterans' care?
A spokesperson for Veterans of Foreign Wars very quickly made clear the VFW "doesn't support privatization of veterans' health care," and Romney backpedaled soon after, saying he was just kicking around a hypothetical scenario he didn't intend to pursue.
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Clovis told the newspaper, "We want quality care top to bottom. If that means we have some form of privatization or some form of Medicare, we don't see anything wrong with that."
Veterans, however, tend to have a very different opinion on the matter.
It's worth emphasizing that this isn't just Trump. As we've documented, several other 2016 Republican presidential contenders included at least partial VA privatization plans in their platforms -- Ben Carson went so far as to say, “We don’t need a Department of Veterans Affairs” -- despite the VA’s record of excellence, and the fact that the VA system as a whole “outperforms the rest of the health care system by just about every metric. Surveys also show that veterans give VA hospitals and clinics a higher customer satisfaction than patients give private-sector hospitals.”
Trump, however, is the party's presumptive nominee. The fact that his campaign doesn't "see anything wrong" with "some form of privatization" raises its significance considerably.
If you missed last night's segment on this, it's worth your time.