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Care commission shocker: The push to privatize VA health care

By Tom Philpott       

Seven of 15 outside health advisers appointed to recommend ways to improve veterans’ health services over the next two decades have proposed shutting down all Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers and outpatient services, and having its nine million enrollees get their medical care in the private sector.

The 34-page “straw man” document released by the congressionally created Commission on Care calls for an immediate halt to construction of new VA hospitals and clinics, and launch of a “BRAC-like process” to begin closing existing facilities. Shuttering the largest medical system in the country would leave the VA to be “primarily a payor” for the care veterans would receive from civilian community doctors and health facilities.

To entice these physicians and facilities to accept more veterans as patients, the straw man document proposes that VA reimbursement rates be set 5 or 10 percent higher than Medicare pays.

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