Sen. Craig’s bill would allow veterans with service connected disabilities to go to the hospital of their choice


March 8, 2007

Media contact: Jeff Schrade (202) 224-9093


(Washington, DC) Expressing strong confidence in the current healthcare system run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Senator Larry Craig said today that he is willing to see how the system might fare in competition with the free market. Under legislation he is introducing – The Veterans Healthcare Empowerment Act – veterans with service connected disabilities will be able to go to any hospital or medical clinic of their choice.


"Many of my colleagues have spent the past week or so accusing VA of ‘failing’ our injured service-members. Most of their evidence is based on reports from the news media who have highlighted recently a number of veterans who were treated badly by VA or who do not have faith in VA’s care. I take these concerns very seriously. But, I am also a little frustrated by it," said Craig.


"That’s why today, I will introduce legislation that says: If you have a service- connected disability, go wherever you want.  No strings.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  Let’s find out where veterans chose to go."


Approximately 2.5 million veterans have service-connected disabilities and approximately 1.7 million currently use the VA healthcare system.  VA operates 154 hospitals and 881 outpatient clinics.  Craig’s healthcare bill would operate somewhat like the G.I. Bill, which allows veterans to choose the college or university of their choice.


"It’s very simple, if service-connected veterans leave in droves, we’ve learned something. But, if veterans overwhelmingly stay, and I think they will, we’ve also learned something," Craig said. "This bill is about my confidence in VA."


The senior senator from Idaho noted that VA’s health care system has consistently been ranked as among the best in the nation.  For the seventh year in a row, a study conducted by the VA’s health care system outscored the private sector in the University of Michigan’s Consumer Satisfaction Survey


Other national publications have also touted VA’s healthcare system.  Last year Time Magazine had a front page article titled "How VA Hospitals Became the best Health Care?" and Business Week called VA healthcare The Best Medical Care In The U.S." more recently Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government awarded VA it’s "Innovations in American Government award" for the electronic health record and performance system."



It sounds like Senator Craig has a royal case of the ass in this issue but I would say he should be on our side in many issues and it is not just hospitals or computer systems or etc.  The VA did not elect him - his constituents did.  Their government press should be secondary to ours as they have a direct White House conflict of interest - we do not!


He does however seemed to see and support the value of not having everyone in an adversarial position within the VA by supporting the use of lawyers.  For that I am grateful to the Senior Senator.  After wading and waiting for five years through this adversarial system that does whatever they want to maintain budget control not justice or even a semblance of justice - I can attest to there is no forum of justice.


Now the Senator's statement sounds simple enough but I will guarantee the VA and our White House will find a way to use this what should be a simple system set up to screw the Vets.


There are many issues to be addressed in this issue of what is covered and in my opinion any congressperson or senator to make a blanket statement like the one above has no earthly idea what we have been facing in VA policies regarding exactly what this statement covers. 


Even in emergencies where the Veteran does not have a pulse and the ambulance takes the Veteran to the closest hospital rather than 45 miles away at the VA.  The Veterans survives and has to fight the next five years to get the VA to pay for his almost service connected death.


Remembering that if this Veterans dies his claim for either reimbursement or to pay the hospital bill  is just as dead.  Nice touch on the part of the supportive VA Administration officials for their bonuses.


No "ifs and or buts" is a broad statement and trust the Veterans if these "ifs and or buts" are not defined exactly as the Senator is proposing and what he and our congress is mandating; the VA will find loop holes to continue stump breaking the Veterans and their families.  You can take that to your dirt side of sod during your dirt nap!


As far as Harvard awards - Harvard medical found the dioxin CNS issues in our PTSD Vets and the senate or the House or the VA have never recognized that little medical finding. 


I leave it to you which is more important to Vets and their spouses!  Denied dioxin CNS damages or computer systems.


As Gibbo says,