Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) dismissed efforts to reform the scandal-plagued healthcare system at the Department of Veterans Affairs, arguing the system provides the "highest quality of care" to veterans and plans to fix it are designed to maximize profits, not help veterans.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," Ocasio-Cortez said at a New York City town hall last week. "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."
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"Here's the thing, they are trying to fix it, but who are they trying to fix it for is the question we've got to ask" she continued. "They're trying to fix the VA for pharmaceutical companies, they're trying to fix the VA for insurance corporations, and ultimately they're trying to fix the VA for a for-profit healthcare industry that does not put people or veterans first."
"We have a responsibility to protect it, because if it is any community that deserves Cadillac first-class health care in the United States of America it is our military service members," she said.
The failures of the VA system became headline news in 2014 when at least 40 veterans died due to delays in care, and whistleblowers revealed that agency officials were destroying evidence to hide the long wait times veterans faced.
Reforming the system became a priority for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Bipartisan legislation to revamp the system was signed by President Trump last year after it overwhelmingly passed through Congress. The vote was 347 for to 70 against in the House and 92 for to 5 against in the Senate.
Another piece of bipartisan legislation designed to accelerate the disciplinary process for employees found guilty of misconduct was passed and signed into law in 2017.
Ocasio-Cortez was not a member of Congress when either bill passed.