FIRST ON CNN: Congressman: Obama should let some vets get private care
May 21st, 2014
01:18 PM ET
2 months ago

FIRST ON CNN: Congressman: Obama should let some vets get private care

(CNN) – The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee is calling on the Obama administration to permit veterans waiting for care at VA hospitals to seek treatment outside that system, if they want.

Rep. Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican, called on President Barack Obama to issue an executive order that would allow those veterans to act on their own and charge the government for outside care.

"He can solve the problem today if he would order his people to allow veterans to seek care - if they can't get it in a timely fashion in the VA – to seek care in the private system," Miller told CNN on Wednesday.

"It appears he's trying to preserve the system as it is. The system is broken," Miller said.

Miller said the change could allow vets to use private providers, a Defense Department facility or a health facility run by an academic institution that has a federal contract.

He also said VA officials complained to him about losing funding because they have allowed this to occur in some cases.

Miller called the President's comments earlier in the day on the scandal that has engulfed the veterans' health care system "too little, too late."

Responding to allegations the VA has delayed care at a number of facilities for sick veterans and covered it up, Obama said he would not tolerate such conduct and would hold people accountable, if what has been alleged is true.

The VA inspector general's office is investigating.

Miller said the administration's ability to get a handle on the situation is getting "bleaker and bleaker every day."

soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. dannytelevision

    Congressman Miller has no idea how the VA controls costs or who will pick up the tab if our vets flee to the private sector. Looks like talking points to appeal to vets. Hey Congressman...how's that jobs bill looking? baaaa-ha-ha-ha.

    May 21, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    “He wants to waive the fact that he has a pen and a telephone? He can solve the problem today if he would order his people to allow veterans to seek care – if they can’t get it in a timely fashion in the VA – to seek care in the private system,” Miller told CNN.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    And if he did you and your rightwing brethren would gnash your teeth, clutch your pearls and fall onto your fainting couches, wailing about what a "dictator" President Obama is for doing so without congressional approval.

    May 21, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  3. Thomas

    Vets deserve quality care !

    What ever it takes , do it right !

    May 21, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    "if they can’t get it in a timely fashion in the VA – to seek care in the private system,” Miller told CNN."

    We aren't talking veterans with simple nose bleeding or aching heads. Medical records have to be reviewed, medical treatments reviewed, medical decisions reviewed. One suspects treating veterans' (both old and young) is complex and cannot simply be brushed off as a "one time" visit cure all.

    What a freaking can of worms that has been kicked around from one administration to the next for well over 5 decades now.

    May 21, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    House Veterans Affairs’ Committee chairman Jeff Miller, R-Florida, tells CNN he is calling on President Barack Obama to sign an executive order immediately to allow veterans who are waiting for medical care at VA hospitals to seek care outside the VA system.
    ---------------------–
    Why is it that these acts of changing the records are solely the fault of the Obama administration? This has been a systemic problem, dating back years, if not decades. Doesn't House Veteran's Affairs Committee share some of the blame, too?

    May 21, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    They are talking about vouchers. Not good. Not efficient.

    May 21, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  7. emskadittle

    What republicans want Obama to sign an executive order?

    May 21, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Doesn't House Veteran's Affairs Committee share some of the blame, too?"

    One would think so. God only knows what (if anything) goes on in Congressional Committee's these days.

    May 21, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    emskadittle

    What republicans want Obama to sign an executive order?
    -------------------------------
    Yeah, they want President Obama to sign an executive order that requires additional money to be spent vouchers of some sort, knowing full well that all spending must be authorized by the Congress. This means that Pres. Obama will decline on the idea, which Republicans will use as a bludgeon to politically hammer on him some more.

    May 21, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  10. Tony D

    Rudy NYC
    They are talking about vouchers. Not good. Not efficient.
    --

    Yes, much more efficient to let them die waiting to be seen by a doctor. Do you work for the VA?

    May 21, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I'm all for taking care of our veterans.
    We owe them that much and they've been getting gypped for decades on care and benefits.
    However....this whole "wave your magic pen" thingy that they want the President to do cracks me up.
    It appears that certain folks won't throw the Executive priviledge card at the President so long as he is signing away on things that they want. If however he is trying to get things that they're not interested in accomplished he's the Messianic Socialist King from Kenya illegal usurper of the Oval Office.

    May 21, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  12. Turdgyl

    ACA is law.

    May 21, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  13. Bessy

    Thomas
    Vets deserve quality care !

    What ever it takes , do it right !
    --------------–
    I agree, however, I also agree with this.

    Rudy NYC
    House Veterans Affairs’ Committee chairman Jeff Miller, R-Florida, tells CNN he is calling on President Barack Obama to sign an executive order immediately to allow veterans who are waiting for medical care at VA hospitals to seek care outside the VA system.
    -------–
    Why is it that these acts of changing the records are solely the fault of the Obama administration? This has been a systemic problem, dating back years, if not decades. Doesn't House Veteran's Affairs Committee share some of the blame, too?

    This is not something Obama is responsible for. It has been going on for ages and is only worse today because of the wars that G.W Bush created which caused a lot more vets who need care.
    Lets tell it like it is folks.

    May 21, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    How cute! Pretending that this is a problem solved by just scribbling a few lines on a napkin and signing it...what a gloriously absurd attempt to put Obama "on the spot"! No no...this wouldn't require all sorts of thought, legislation and regulations about additional funding (yes, it would require massive appropriations), and how and when the right to go to private provider facility is triggered, and how the payments are processed, and how many new federal employees need to be hired to process these payments, and how much of the cost is covered, and which facilities are approved, and how do we set up the administrative infrastructure to handle the new rules, etc. etc. None of that is necessary!!!! It can all be done with just some magic wand waving and POOF! Problem gone! So why hasn't Obama done it already!?!?!??! Oh yeah, because reality is different than the cartoon universe in the conservative hivemind.

    And oh look!!! This guy is the Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee...making a statement that evidences an abhorrently ignorant lack of understanding of both the fundamentals of how the system operates now, what the problem really is, and how these changes he suggests would need to be implemented. Lovely. I continue to believe that they deliberately appointed exactly the wrong people to be chairpersons...Bachman on the House Intelligence committee...a guy who cited the Bible as proof against climate change in a hearing as the chairman for the environmental subcommittee...a guy who apologizes to BP for Obama coming down hard on them for polluting the entire Gulf of Mexico....breaking gov't to "prove" it's broken.

    May 21, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  15. Silence DoGood

    @Rudy NYC
    emskadittle

    What republicans want Obama to sign an executive order?
    -----------
    Yeah, they want President Obama to sign an executive order that requires additional money to be spent vouchers of some sort, knowing full well that all spending must be authorized by the Congress. This means that Pres. Obama will decline on the idea, which Republicans will use as a bludgeon to politically hammer on him some more.
    ---------
    So they can hammer Obama for using and NOT using executive orders.
    That sounds about like what has been going on.

    May 21, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  16. Lynda/Minnesota

    And oh look!!! This guy is the Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee...making a statement that evidences an abhorrently ignorant lack of understanding of both the fundamentals of how the system operates now, what the problem really is, and how these changes he suggests would need to be implemented. Lovely. I continue to believe that they deliberately appointed exactly the wrong people to be chairpersons...Bachman on the House Intelligence committee...a guy who cited the Bible as proof against climate change in a hearing as the chairman for the environmental subcommittee...a guy who apologizes to BP for Obama coming down hard on them for polluting the entire Gulf of Mexico....breaking gov't to "prove" it's broken.
    -----------

    You're on a roll, Sniffit ... ! A tip of my hat coming your way for a great post.

    May 21, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. somebody

    Tony D

    Rudy NYC
    They are talking about vouchers. Not good. Not efficient.

    Yes, much more efficient to let them die waiting to be seen by a doctor. Do you work for the VA?

    This isn't a binary choice of providing vouchers or doing nothing. The addition money money that would be needed for vouchers could also be used to fix the problems in the VA itself. I believe Rudy is suggesting that using the additional $$ to fix the VA is more efficient than dealing with outsourcing and all the complexities that come with it. Generating contractual agreements between the VA and private hospitals isn't going to be instantaneous either.

    I hope you're not proposing a blank check for whatever hospitals want to charge. It kinda goes against the whole fiscal responsibility thing.

    May 21, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. Rick McDaniel

    Obama is simply untruthful, about everything. He KNOWS this was a policy being handed down to the various VA hospitals from higher authority.

    It is disgraceful, and his denial of knowledge is simply not TRUE!

    May 21, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. sonny chapman

    Repubs never miss an opportunity to try to PRIVATIZE anything. It's in their DNA. Doesn't matter if 90% of Vets like their treatment. Saw this in the Iraq Debacle. Privatize parts of the Military, give BIG $$ to supporters. Get BIG $$ back as Contributions. It's WONDERFUL Politics.

    May 21, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Tony D

    Rudy NYC
    They are talking about vouchers. Not good. Not efficient.

    Yes, much more efficient to let them die waiting to be seen by a doctor. Do you work for the VA?
    =======================================================================
    The President cannot write an executive order authorizing new spending. The chairman knows this, and he knows that the average right wing media addict will willfully ignore this fact. If the chairman wants to write vouchers, then House Republicans need to pass legislation authorizing the billions in new spending.

    But, that wouldn't fit the right wing's spending narrative would it? The change would cost billions to implement. It would bankrupt the V.A. It is also precisely what the Ryan Budget's Medicare vouchers would do to Medicare. Medicare would bankrupt itself in the attempt to make the changeover to a voucher system because TWO systems would have to be in existence at the same time at the time of the switch over to vouchers.

    May 21, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  21. sonny chapman

    PS-In other parts of the world(Afghanistan), it's called BRIBERY.

    May 21, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    somebody wrote:

    This isn't a binary choice of providing vouchers or doing nothing. The addition money money that would be needed for vouchers could also be used to fix the problems in the VA itself. I believe Rudy is suggesting that using the additional $$ to fix the VA is more efficient than dealing with outsourcing and all the complexities that come with it. Generating contractual agreements between the VA and private hospitals isn't going to be instantaneous either.

    I hope you're not proposing a blank check for whatever hospitals want to charge. It kinda goes against the whole fiscal responsibility thing.
    --------------------------
    They know full well that the POTUS cannot an executive order for new spending, which is what this proposal would require. The point is to make Pres. Obama decline the idea, and then hammer him on not supporting veterans.

    May 21, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  23. smith

    @Bessy-You do realize that any vet can go to the VA medical center, regardless if they were in a war or not. The elderly vets that died waiting for medical care were not pushed aside so an Iraq or Afghanistan War vet could get treatment. They were pushed aside due to poor record keeping. Wars have nothing to do with the numbers of vets using the VA centers around the country.

    May 21, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  24. 2_indy1600

    Since he CAMPAIGNED on fixing the VA mess, anything to modify, change, give hope to millions of vets, is not only appreciated, but expected; the might of the executive pen is an option: stagnant rot is not.

    May 21, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  25. it must be said

    The fastest and easiest fix is to pass a law making all veterans instantly a part of the Medicare, Medicaid or Obamacare system. Why even have the VA hospital system? Total duplication which is obviously NOT WORKING. Let the vets get exactly what we are getting. We can all be part of the same deadly wait list medical care system the federal government is forcing us all into.

    May 21, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
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