Efforts to give veterans healthcare facilities outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs has been deemed as an attempt to dismantle the VA medical systems. The ‘Medicare for All’ proposals before the Congress is working to establish single-payer healthcare systems under the government. This would limit the sale of private health plans while employer-sponsored healthcare coverage in public and private sectors would be completely prohibited.
Though the Medicare for All would leave the VA system run by the government intact, the Department of Defence’s TRICARE program will run to ruin. This program affords healthcare for 9.4 million US military personnel, serving and retired, their families, and some reserves. Through this program, service members are given 11 plans to make a choice out of, allowing them to cover their individual. The elimination of the TRICARE would negatively affect military morale, recruitment, as well as retention.
If the VA system were to remain, Medicare for All would still affect the lives of millions of veterans who are part of the TRICARE program. Those who would choose to remain under the same insurance cover would be given almost no options under Medicare for All.
Supporters for the Medicare for All state that VA is a model government-run healthcare system, but it has now moved toward the direction of free-market model insurance. It has relied on community contributions for supplementing care to those enlisted. Since the 2014 waitlist scandal, the program has included more and more outside healthcare providers, increasing the use by 50%. One-third of all appointments made under the VA system today are made outside the system through community care,
The recently launched Community Care Program by the VA MISSION Act has expanded access to care by creating a network of urgent-care providers locally which can be visited by a veteran without prior permission from the VA bureaucracy. These reforms will shrink in coverage with Medicare for All. The needs of the veterans may not be as well taken care of with this program as it was under the VA system.
Canadian military personnel has been using government-run health systems which are among 11 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries when it came to patients seeing their family physician. In Britain, the NHS provides such services.
Medicare for All is ignoring all the lessons learned by the VA system over the last five years. These include understanding the need for choice among the veterans of the nation. Healthcare access for veterans should be a top priority for the government right now.