Veterans Strongly Disagree With Ocasio-Cortez on VA Reform, Poll Shows

Freshman congresswoman says VA troubles are a 'myth,' opposes reform

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez / Getty Images
April 30, 2019

Veterans of all political stripes overwhelmingly support reform that would allow military health benefits to be used outside the VA healthcare system, new polling shows.

Reform efforts have come under new scrutiny in recent weeks due to comments made by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), who has indicated a willingness to oppose changes to the VA.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," she said at a town hall two weeks ago. "The idea that this thing that isn't broken, this thing that provides the highest quality care to our veterans somehow needs to be fixed, optimized, tinkered with until you don't even recognize it anymore."

This past weekend she doubled down, again saying reform wasn't needed and saying it was a "myth" that veterans have problems with the current system.

An overwhelming majority of veterans disagree with Ocasio-Cortez, according to a new poll from Concerned Veterans for America that found 90 percent of veterans support having the choice to use their VA healthcare benefits outside of the existing system.

When veterans were notified in the poll that choosing to go outside the VA system for care could lead to additional out of pocket costs, support remained at 79 percent.

Both veterans who identify as Republicans (93 percent) and Democrats (88 percent) support increased choice. Ninety-two percent of senior citizen veterans also support the option.

Nate Anderson, executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, pushed against Ocasio-Cortez's argument that veterans are happy with the current system.

"The congresswoman is off base with her assessment," Anderson told the Washington Free Beacon. "Just because some veterans in the VA system are getting good care, doesn't mean all are. And for those who are not, they deserve more choice so they can get the care they need."

Anderson also rejected the notion that reform efforts are aimed at complete privatization of the VA.

"One-size-fits-all bureaucratic policies don't work for a group as diverse and unique as our veterans population," he said. "Reforming the VA isn't privatization, it's simply making the VA one choice for veterans, not the only choice."

The poll of 800 military veterans was conducted in early April, before Ocasio-Cortez began her onslaught against reform efforts.