Statement of Garry J. Augustine, DAV Washington Executive Director


Garry-Augustine_PhotoWe appreciate the passion and focus of Mr. Trump to improve the health and well-being of America’s veterans and agree with some elements of his plan.  However, while his proposal to give every veteran a card to purchase private sector medical care may be well-intentioned, it would be disastrous for the men and women who served.

Encouraging all veterans to seek care in the private sector which lacks the expertise to treat military and combat injuries and illnesses, and which does not typically provide integrated or coordinated care, would lead to worse health outcomes for many veterans.

In addition, economists estimate such a plan would be at least two to three times more expensive than the current VA health care budget; between $1 – $2 trillion dollars more in the first ten years.  This proposal would bust the federal budget, bankrupt the VA health care system and could lead to significant new costs on veterans for care they have already paid for with their blood, sweat and sacrifice.

Just last week, a Congressionally-created Commission rejected the idea of giving veterans a plastic card to buy private sector care, citing both the enormous costs as well as a decline in the quality of care.  Instead, the Commission recommended building upon the high quality of care provided by the VA in order to create integrated networks utilizing community providers to expand access for veterans.

DAV, other veterans organizations, many veterans leaders in Congress, the VA and now the Commission have all come to the same conclusion: the best way to expand access to high-quality, veteran-focused care is by integrating community providers into networks coordinated by VA, not by sending more veterans out into the private sector.

We hope to have the opportunity to discuss our concerns with Mr. Trump in order to find common ground on how best to fulfill the promises to the men and women who served.  We look forward to working with the next President and Congress to strengthen, reform and sustain the VA health care system for the millions of veterans who choose and rely on VA for their care, particularly those injured and ill from their service.