Presidential candidates plan to reform a corrupt VA
In 2014, an estimated 40 veterans died awaiting health care in VA facilities.
Nov. 11, 2015
After an ongoing scandal in 2014 concerning the Department of Veterans Affairs, in which an estimated 40 veterans died while waiting for healthcare at VA facilities, one of the main focuses of the 2016 primary election season has been how each candidate plans to reform the VA and provide better veteran care.
VA reform is one of the main platforms for Republican candidate and frontrunner Donald Trump during the primary season. A goal of Trump’s plan, as outlined on Trump’s official campaign website, is to reform the VA as soon as possible.
Trump’s plans for veterans include better mental health care, funding for job training and placement services, a modernized VA and better support for female veterans.
In response to the VA scandal, Trump has also proposed more severe consequences for VA executives that “enable or overlook” corruption within the system.
A major change for veterans under Trump’s presidency would be that a veteran could take their veterans ID card to and medical facility that accepts Medicaid and receive healthcare.
Other actions Trump will take to modernize the VA include introducing satellite VA clinics to rural areas and hiring more veterans to work in VA clinics.
Democratic frontrunner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on her campaign website that she does not believe privatization will resolve issues within the VA.
An administration under Clinton's presidency plans to improve mental health services, tackle the roots of veteran homelessness and equally support female and LGBTQ veterans.
If elected, Clinton plans to promote the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and veto any plans to undermine it. The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill promotes education for veterans by investing in tuition payments, monthly allowances and book stipends for veterans to receive an education.
Republican candidate Ben Carson has a radically different plan for the VA. Carson wants to get rid of the department entirely.
Carson said that under his plan, responsibilities held by the VA would be folded into the Department of Defense. His plan includes a health savings account for veterans that would be pay for treatment at any facility.
Carson also wants to make specialized care available through military and civilian centers for military-specific post-traumatic stress disorder, brain or spinal cord injury and limb loss.
Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley wants to reform the VA by “empowering” the Office of the Inspector General, which investigates failures within the VA system.
O’Malley also plans to apply VetStat, a data program which he implemented in Maryland, in order to pinpoint problems in the VA system nationwide.
Like his other democratic and some republican candidates, O’Malley plans to increase efforts to combat veteran suicide, homelessness and care for female veterans. He also said that he will fully implement recommendations outlined in the Veterans Choice and Independent Assessment.
If elected, democratic candidate Bernie Sanders will work to implement the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act to increase accountability within the VA.
This act authorizes 27 new medical facilities and $5 billion in order to hire new doctors and nurses for VA hospitals.
Sanders also said he will improve mental health care at VA facilities and expand the Caregivers Program.
An aspect of Sanders’ platform for veterans not seen in other candidates is that Sanders said he will make dental care available at all VA medical facilities. Sanders has again stated that he will afford the cost of reforming the VA by asking “the most profitable corporations and wealthiest among us to pay their fair share,” according to his website.
Republican candidate and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s platform for veterans is much like his plan to reform education. Rubio said that he will improve education for veterans while putting an emphasis on vocational training. His platform also says that work veterans do in the field should count toward credit for their education and professional certificates.
In the past, Rubio has introduced legislation that would allow VA secretaries to fire VA employees based on misconduct.
“I am proud that last year we changed the law,” Rubio said during the second GOP debate. “It is outrageous they've only fired one person to date.”
Rubio has also said that he will focus on improving job opportunities for veterans.