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Vets and unions say administration undermining the VA

Admin says it’s improving care and boosting value
Posted at 7:34 PM, Aug 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-21 22:34:55-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - There's a battle brewing for military veterans -- and some of the union workers who deliver their healthcare.

Veteran groups and unions say the Federal government is undermining the VA health care system.

Some veterans and healthcare workers say the Federal government is hurting the health of the VA itself by trying to carve unions out of wage and workplace negotiations and turning VA health services over to private doctors and hospitals.

There have been moves to let veterans use private health care if there's a long wait at the VA or if they live a long way from VA facilities but critics say that has been cover for a break-up plan.

Henry Trejo of the Alliance for Retired Americans doesn't want to lose the doctor who cared for him for eleven years.

"My doctor has immediate access to my records and she knows all about me and it's easy to go there and be treated by her. Now in the private sector, we don't know what kind of treatment we're going to get."

Congressman Raul Grijalva says if the administration cuts the bargaining power of unions there's no organized voice to speak up for workers and veterans.

In statements, the VA denies it's trying to break up or privatize the system. It says it's trying to renegotiate it's union contracts; "... to improve medical care, customer service, and staff accountability while maximizing value for Veterans and taxpayers."

Ron Barber is a former Congressman now District Director for Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick.

He says Kirkpatrick's sponsoring legislation that forbids the government from carving unions out of VA workplace negotiations. He thinks it'll pass the House but then has to pass through the Senate and the President.

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: “Even if it clears both houses would it be in danger of a veto you think? Barber: “Well possibly but it is inside a much larger budget, the appropriations bill for various agencies. It's not just stand-alone. So the President can not veto a piece of that, he has to veto the whole thing which would be unlikely because some of that funding has to do with the White House operations."