Photo Credit: Ståle Grut / NRKbeta

DES MOINES, Iowa – Last Wednesday during a town hall meeting in the Bronx, freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., discussed the VA and criticized the bipartisan reform, the VA Mission Act, that passed in 2018.

The VA Mission Act created a community care program that gave new authority for VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to implement new rules related to private care for veterans. Under the new rules that Wilkie proposed veterans that have to drive more than 30 minutes to reach their VA mental health or primary-care providers or who have to wait longer than 20 days for an appointment would be allowed to seek private care. Before the wait periods had to exceed 30 days before outsourced care was approved.

In circumstances where specialty care is needed, a veteran can seek outside care if they have to drive more than 60 minutes or if they had to wait more than 28 days for an appointment.

America Rising PAC released a video of her comments about the VA.

“There are some things that we are hearing today, some things that are coming out, especially when it comes to the VA. All I can think of is that classic refrain my parents always told me growing up, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,'” Ocasio-Cortez said.

“The idea that this thing that isn’t broken, this thing that provides the highest quality care to our veterans somehow needs to be fixed, optimized, tinkered with until you don’t even recognize it anymore,” she added.

So, the VA was not broken?

Apparently, she missed the story where the VA revoked the benefits from 115 veterans they wrongly declared dead. A nonpartisan, independent commission also recently recommended more private options and a ‘transformation’ of the VA health care system. These are folks who took time to study the issue.

In the not-so-distant past (like 2017) the VA had a wait list problem. For instance, Fox News reported more than 2,900 veterans seen at the Shreveport, La. were in “bureaucracy hell” waiting to see non-VA doctors through the VA’s Veterans Choice Program.

If that doesn’t describe something that is broke I don’t know what does.

Certainly, not every veteran has the same experience with the VA, and not every location deals with the same problems. However, we should provide our veterans with the most flexibility possible. The VA Mission Act was a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.

Turning a blind eye to the problems that exist within the system do not honor our veterans or provide them with the care that they deserve.

Photo Credit: Ståle Grut / NRKbeta

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