Veterans Group Proposes Overhaul of Health Care Services

Allowing veterans to purchase private insurance would help fix a broken system, group says

Veterans Affairs hospital in Pittsburgh / AP

A leading veterans group proposed expanding the number of health care options for veterans, including private insurance, in a report released on Thursday.

Concerned Veterans for America’s (CVA) Fixing Veterans Health Care Taskforce said veterans should have the ability to purchase private health care coverage with federal subsidies, just like employees of the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department. Current veterans would be able to maintain their existing coverage under the proposal, while future veterans would receive federal support for their premiums based on their level of service-connected injuries and would still be able to use VA facilities.

The task force also recommended restructuring the VA to separate its health insurance and care provider missions, allocating resources for VA medical centers more efficiently and requiring the VA to provide more public data about its costs.

CVA’s report aims to overhaul a government department that has been plagued with scandals in recent months. Former VA Sec. Eric Shinseki resigned last May after evidence emerged that VA employees covered up long wait times for veterans at medical facilities.

Additionally, CBS News reported this week that the VA branch in Oakland, Calif., ignored requests about benefits from thousands of veterans. Many died before receiving a response from the VA.

CVA said in its report that reforms—and not just more funding—are vital to improving the VA’s health care delivery.

"Despite a $91 billion cumulative increase in the VA’s budget since 2006 and a 101,000-person increase in the VA’s staff, the timeliness of health care delivery for a shrinking veteran population has not improved," the report said.