Veterans applaud house passage of VA Mission Act; Unions … not so much

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The White House and veterans groups celebrated the passage of the VA Mission Act through the House of Representative, but a government employee unions spoke out against the vote.

“On behalf of Paralyzed Veterans of America members—veterans with spinal cord injury or disease—their families, and caregivers, we applaud the House of Representatives for its passage today of the VA MISSION Act,” the PVA said in a statement. “This critical legislation will ensure that meaningful reform is effected for the delivery of veterans’ health care, particularly in the community.”

Read: Full Text of the VA Mission Act of 2018

The VA Mission act fundamentally establishes a permanent community care program for veterans, creates a commission to make recommendations on the modernization and realignment of VA facilities, address flaws in the Veterans Affairs construction, suggest improvements in laws concerning the VA and improve the home loan program administered by the VA.

“The system [VA Mission Act of 2018] will strengthen the VA and provide timely and seamless care to VA patients, modernize VA health care by making investments in VA assets and provide $5.2 billion in urgently needed funds in order to prevent interruption of Veterans currently using the Choice Program,” the White House said in a statement.

“We are particularly pleased with the inclusion of the expansion of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Comprehensive Family Caregiver Program to veterans injured prior to September 11, 2001. This issue has been the number one priority for our members and their families since the creation of the original program,” the Paralyzed Veterans of America said. “The correction in the inequity of the existing program is long overdue.”

“We now call on the Senate to quickly take up and pass this legislation. Community care reform and expansion of the caregiver program cannot be delayed any longer,” the group added.

The White House has strongly supported the VA Mission Act and pushed for its passage through the Senate.

“President Donald J. Trump applauds the House of Representatives for voting to pass the VA MISSION Act today,” the White House said. “This important legislation will transform the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) into a high-performing and integrated healthcare system for the 21st century. “The President encourages members of the Senate to put the needs of our nation’s veterans over partisan politics, and pass this necessary legislation before Memorial Day to ensure that our Nations bravest do not have to wait in never-ending lines to receive the care they rightfully deserve.”

But a government employee union disregarded the benefits for veterans in the bill and falsely maligned it as a doorway to privatizing the VA – something that could jeopardize the need for the union in veterans health care.

“The VA Mission Act is a horrendous piece of legislation that will set the only health care system tailored to veterans on a path of total privatization,” American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “It’s a broken promise to our nation’s veterans and imperils the future of their health care.”

The AFGE, itself a special interest group, took a hypocritical swipe at the bill forgetting that the union makes a pretty penny in union dues of the workers in the VA.

“For years, special interest groups have tried to dismantle the VA so they could make a buck off the backs of veterans, and now they’re closer than ever,” Cox said.

Cox made a please for citizens, not veterans, to contact their Senators and tell them to vote “no” on the bill that veterans largely applaud.

We are calling on our members and concerned citizens of the community to call their members of Congress and tell them to vote ‘NO’ on S. 2372, and hope those in Congress who support veterans will step up before it’s too late.”

Groups with veteran’s interests at heart spoke out against a “no” vote, putting them at odds with the union.

“We are very disappointed in those members of the House who have chosen to vote against the VA MISSION Act,” the Paralyzed Veterans of America said. “This legislation has strong bipartisan support and the support of 38 major veterans and military service organizations. A vote against this legislation is a vote against veterans, particularly veterans with catastrophic disabilities, with critical health care access and caregiver support needs.”

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