As we have a national conversation about healthcare reform, there’s one group of people that should not be ignored, the men and women who have served in the United States military. Unfortunately, despite improvements to our VA hospitals, there is still a lot of work to be done. Luckily for our Veterans, in 2014, the choice card program was implemented allowing those who’ve sacrificed so much for us access to medical care outside the VA system. This helped with the VA’s wait time problems and allowed over 1.5 million vets to get access to healthcare through the program. The program, however, is threatened because it is set to expire this summer. Luckily the VA choice program has one of its fiercest defenders in the Senate, Senator John McCain. Sen. McCain is currently co-sponsoring legislation that would remove the end date for the program, letting veterans keep access to the more than 350,000 doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants that the program has expanded their choices too.
McCain, being a veteran himself, knows the sacrifices these men and women have gone through. What an insult it would be to them and their families if they were not given the healthcare they earned through their service to our country. On March 8th the Senator gave a gut-wrenching story to the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee about an Army Veteran of 18 years, Steven Cooper, who, because of a back up in the VA system, failed to diagnose stage 4 prostate cancer. The Veteran ended up suing the VA and winning. McCain explained that Mr. Cooper was only one of about 15,000 vets waiting to receive care at the Phoenix VA hospital. Unfortunately, these types of stories are all too common and it’s clear that the choice card program desperately needs to be expanded. Luckily for our veterans, Senator McCain’s proposal is getting praise even from the VA’s Secretary David Shulkin who said, “If we don’t do this extension, this is going to be a disaster for veterans.”
It’s obvious that Senator McCain is right on this issue. Until we can assure that the VA can properly serve our veterans, the choice card needs to be extended. Providing the choice card to our vets is the least we can do for them after all they’ve given us. Please urge your Senators, Congressman, and President Trump to stand with McCain and provide choice for our vets.