This week, Republicans submitted a plan that would mandate VA healthcare for congressional representatives and their staff to get them to acknowledge the VA’s systemic flaws.
Members and employees of both houses of Congress must use the Obamacare-managed health insurance marketplace in the District of Columbia.
They are eligible for gold-level coverage, which means they contribute 20% toward their healthcare expenditures, and the government pays the remaining 80%.
However, under legislation introduced by Ohio Republican and Army veteran Representative Warren Davidson, legislators and their staff would be eligible for VA care at VA facilities “as if such employees and constituents were veterans.”
According to Davidson, the goal is to raise awareness of VA issues among lawmakers.
Since it became apparent in 2014 that the VA deliberately failed to report veteran wait times for health treatment to make it appear that veterans were receiving timely care, the VA has been under intense scrutiny.
Evidence suggested that some veterans perished while waiting for VA care because of this approach. Because of this, Congress established a test program so that some veterans might seek treatment from private medical facilities instead of the VA.
The MISSION Act, signed into law by former President Trump, made it possible for individuals to pay for their health care. Still, the Biden administration has been criticized for seeking to downplay this possibility.
Republicans chastised Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough in the 2022 hearing for changing a MISSION Act link from a page that informed veterans about their private healthcare options to one that urged them to sign up for VA treatment.
Care wait times remain a significant concern for veterans and veteran advocacy groups.
Veterans groups and their allies have requested federal documents and discovered proof that the VA is again fabricating data to make it appear that VA wait times are shorter than they are.
For instance, they discovered that the VA does not begin counting the waiting period until a VA “scheduler” begins working on setting an appointment, which can be weeks or months after the veteran initially wants care.
Having seemingly short wait times can make it more difficult for veterans to receive care from organizations other than the VA.
However, veterans’ groups claim that artificially reduced wait times are prohibiting scores of veterans from accessing the care they need outside of the VA, which violates the MISSION Act.
To learn more about the VA’s MISSION Act implementation, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) filed a lawsuit against the agency last year.
After the judge ordered the VA to hand over those records, AFP went back to court in Washington, D.C., last month to demand that the VA hand over even more documents, including those that identify which VA top brass are trying to rein in MISSION Act enforcement.