Dems say Romney wrong on vets' health care
November 16th, 2011
03:21 PM ET
2 years ago

Dems say Romney wrong on vets' health care

(CNN) - Mitt Romney's campaign is pushing back after Democrats released a Web video painting the candidate as insensitive to the health concerns of veterans.

The video, from the Democratic National Committee, hits Romney for mentioning health care vouchers as an option for veterans. The former Massachusetts governor made the comments on Veterans Day during a roundtable with vets in South Carolina.

"Sometimes you wonder, would there be some way to introduce some private sector competition, somebody else that could come in an say, you know each soldier gets X-thousand dollars attributed to them and then they can choose whether they want to go into the government system or in a private system with the money that follows them," Romney said.

The video released Wednesday by the DNC says the vouchers would amount to "undermining veterans' health care when they need it the most."

The DNC poses the question, "But what if a voucher doesn't cover the care for our wounded warriors?"

When asked about the video, Romney's campaign provided a statement from retired Army Col. Fareed Betros, who moderated the November 11 veterans' roundtable.

"We were thrilled to have Governor Romney in South Carolina meeting with veterans and talking about improving veterans' health care," Betros said.

He continued, "It was clear from our conversations that Governor Romney is only interested in providing veterans with the world-class care they deserve and reversing the defense cuts and failed policies of the Obama administration."

A second statement, from former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi, said Romney was focused on helping veterans get care. Principi is a co-chair of Romney's veterans advisory group.

"Mitt Romney will fulfill that obligation by building a VA health care system for the 21st century that is patient focused," Principi said. "He will bring the full weight of his office to eliminate the backlog of claims for disability compensation and pensions. He will supply our troops the military they need to win wars and come home safe."

At his event, Romney compared the idea to a similar system in place for teachers in Florida. In 2009, President Barack Obama also considered a proposal to have treatment for service-connected injuries charged to veterans' private insurance plans. He eventually dropped the idea after stiff opposition from veterans' groups.

Wednesday's DNC video also uses footage from a Romney town hall Tuesday in Columbia, South Carolina, showing a woman wearing a 'Vets against VA vouchers' T-shirt being escorted from event.

The woman, Navy veteran Melissa Harmon, said Tuesday she was protesting Romney's comments about allowing veterans to choose between a private health care plan and government-run system.

Harmon, 34, and four other activists said they were associated with the Occupy Columbia movement. She said they had no intention of being disruptive and that she "stood there politely" when she revealed her T-shirt,

Romney campaign aides escorted the protesters separately out of the event.

They left the parking lot without incident and repositioned across the street where Romney would presumably see them as he was leaving.

Romney's campaign did not respond to requests for comment on the incident.

–CNN Political Producer Shawna Shepherd contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • DNC • Mitt Romney • Veterans
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. RJWTimes Bradford England

    The thing is they can always find money to give the troops the best healthcare – which is not privately run. We must continue to do the same for ordinary people as well.

    November 16, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Our veterans deserve the best health care, but handing them a voucher is not going to solve the problem. Private industries are in it for the profit, not for quality care. By the way, all Americans deserve the best health care.

    November 16, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  3. Stu Steinberg

    What would you expect from a guy who never served even though he was available during the Vietnam War. It is also telling that he has five sons, none of whom served. The idea of vouchers for veterans health care is absurd and is nothing more than another sop to the private health care industry by another right wing ideologue who believes that the private sector is always better than a government-run program. The VA health care system has been found to be one of the top managed health care systems in the world and this is why people like Romney and the rest of the GOP candidates can't stand it–it's basically a socialist program that works well and provides its recipients with first-class care. These cretins just can't stand the fact that the money spent on the VA system is not going into the pockets of the people who fund their campaigns.

    November 16, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I have begun to notice that the big military brass tends to favor the looney right wingnuts, and the actual soldiers appear to support the party that looks out for them, the democrats.

    November 16, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  5. Fair is Fair

    "The thing is they can always find money to give the troops the best healthcare – which is not privately run."
    -------
    Ever been to a VA hospital? My dad has – they ain't pretty.

    November 16, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Mitt Romney will fulfill that obligation by building a VA health care system for the 21st century that is patient focused," Principi said. "He will bring the full weight of his office to eliminate the backlog of claims for disability compensation and pensions. He will supply our troops the military they need to win wars and come home safe."

    Hmm. It DOES sound as if Romney IS going to take the voucher route after all. Unfortunately, his plan doesn't address long term veterans care, or medical illnesses for those having fought in previous wars related to said wars, or whether or not the vouchers will be capped, such as how the Ryan Plan favors capping Medicare costs using vouchers. I have several members of my family who are treated by the VA ... all of whom have nothing but good words for the care they receive. Indeed, I routinely visit one member, and have witnessed the care first hand. I doubt they would want a dollar limit applied, or their particular medical needs auctioned to the highest "for profit" insurance bidder, let alone addressing the risk of losing their coverage altogether a few years down the line when "for profit" hits an all time "profit" sucking low. Just more of Mitt Romney plans for dividing America into the Corporate elites and the have not serfs, I suspect.

    November 16, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    from the article:
    "We were thrilled to have Governor Romney in South Carolina meeting with veterans and talking about improving veterans' health care," Betros said.
    ---------------
    If Bush/Cheney hadn't made so many cutbacks on VA hospitals, especially during their second term, we wouldn't even be having this conversation about improving veterans' health care. The Republicans seem to have the idea the PTSD is not a real illness, and that those who report it are either complete wimps or sponges.

    November 16, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  8. tee66

    They are correct Mitt did mentioning health care vouchers for Vets. That`s a bad one sounds like he wants to throw the vets out on the street.

    November 16, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  9. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on US!

    Vouchers are just another GOBP deathcult scam to privatize government services. It's basically a money trough from which the 1% plan to slurp up our taxes while avoiding paying taxes on their own massive wealth.

    November 16, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair lamented:
    Ever been to a VA hospital? My dad has – they ain't pretty.
    ----------
    You have my sympathies. Most that I have visited are pretty decent compared to most public hospitals. Faster service, more competent and compassionate stafferes, you name it. I am sorry to hear that.

    Game on, again. Move to NYC. Use the VA hospital on 22nd Street. Become a liberal. The last is the key.

    November 16, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. NES5000B

    @Fair is Fair – ever been to most private run hospitals? They aren't pretty either. The problem with VA hospitals is the paperwork and lack of federal money to support what needs to be done – and of course all those pesky republicans wanting to make cuts to federal programs like VA benefits. Reality check – and BTW – my father was a decorated 20 year marine vet – he had the best care money could buy and didn't have to pay like the rest of us working middle class (you know $450 a month out of pocket with $1,500 deductibles and co-pays). I hardly get sick – why should I have to pay for all the fat, lazy southerners and mid-westerners who don't take care of themselves. And as for the big "what if" – well that's why I take care of myself to alleviate many illnesses.

    November 16, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  12. Anon

    If these politicians cared as much about vets as they claim to, they would be proposing free lifetime heath care for all vets who have served a a couple of years and for all vets who were injured while in the service.

    November 16, 2011 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  13. jeffromac

    What is the use of giving a veteran most likely with a pre-existing condition a voucher for private health care unless The Affordable Health care Law (that Romney is against) is in effect will do considering no insurance will accept them. This would just mean any of them accepting vouchers would be accepting no health care at all.

    November 16, 2011 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  14. Clwyd

    So Mitt takes away from the older Medicare people their medical coverage so he doesn't have to raise taxes as he promised to the republicans. Nice to throw the older Americans under your bus Mitt!

    November 16, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  15. jacq

    Romney is a con artist,he makes Rembrandt look like he's playing with crayons

    November 16, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |