The Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute (VHPI) is an excellent source for information on the current state of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and efforts to privatize the VA. You can sign up for the site and subscribe to its newsletter to keep abreast of developments. To visit the website click here.
Below are links to articles and documents that give you more information about issues important to veterans and to being able to strengthen the VHA.
The Asset and Infrastructure Review (or AIR) Commission
The Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission established by the VA MISSION Act of 2018 is now being implemented. This Commission will evaluate utilization patterns and infrastructure needs of all VA facilities and then recommend whether to close, replace, consolidate, expand or repurpose them. In 2023, Congress will vote up or down on the Commission recommendations without being able to amend them.
Listed here are several resources that provide information about this process that will determine the future of the VA.
- The Veterans For Peace, SAVE OUR VA National Campaign submission to the Federal Register
- This VHPI forum presents many of the issues surrounding potential outcomes of VA facility closures. Watch on Youtube
- The Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute (VHPI) recommendations in the Federal Register about the criteria to consider when doing their assessment presents a good overview of many issues. Read it here
- VHPI submitted a Statement for the Record for a Congressional hearing on the AIR Commission. They list and detail the impact of closing VA facilities. Read here.
- To read the sections of the VA Mission Act of 2018 that mandate the AIR Commission, click this link and scroll down to Sections 201-210
VHA Healthcare – what it does and who it serves:
The Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute (VHPI) puts out a Congressional Guide for Veteran's Health Care that explains the VA, what it does and the issues important to veterans and activists. To download a PDF copy of the guide, click this link: Tools and Resources | VHPI (veteranspolicy.org)
COVID-19 and VHA Health Care:
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the VHA, but it has met these challenges and provided care to veteran while assisting the general public; and once again pioneered programs being replicated by the private sector. To read about VHA's response to COVID-19, click this link: Issues 3 | VHPI (veteranspolicy.org)
Who is eligible for VHA Care?
Military Discharges: Many veterans are not eligible for VHA care. Often this relates to the type of discharge a veteran receives and VA regulations around discharge types and benefits. To learn more about this issue and how it impacts all VHA care, click here: Military Discharge Fact Sheet - Google Docs
Service-Connected Benefits: The VBA (Veterans' Benefit Administration) determines the eligibility of veterans to receive benefits for injuries that occurred while in service. Secretary Wilke turned all evaluations to determine eligibility for benefits over to private contractors. To read about this and its impact on veterans, click here: The fallout of a 'bad paper' discharge (veteranspolicy.org)
Mental Health Care in the VHA
VHPI issued a report on mental health care in the VHA, which includes some of the world's most innovative approaches to treatment of PTSD. The report looks to the future of mental health care in the VHA and what it can offer the rest of American. To see the report, click here: VHPI Reports | VHPI (veteranspolicy.org)
VA Vs. Private Sector Healthcare
A recent study by Stanford University economists categorically demonstrates that veterans who get their care at the VHA live longer during and after a medical emergency, and at lower cost, than those receiving non-VA care. Read more about this and other comparisons of VA and private sector care at New Study Settles the Privatization Debate: VA Produces Better Outcomes at Lower Cost (veteranspolicy.org)
Myths about VA care
The wait times scandal in Phoenix is only one of myths about VA healthcare that are frequently used to disparage the VHA and promote moving to the private sector. Phillip Longman who served on the Commission on Care, established by Congress to study the future of VA, and is the author of a book on VA, "Best Care Anywhere" talks about these myths in this article: Five myths about VA health care - The Washington Post.