House Dems boycott VA reform discussion over inclusion of right-leaning group: report

House Dems boycott VA reform discussion over inclusion of right-leaning group: report
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House Democrats boycotted a veterans health care reform discussion Tuesday over the inclusion of an advocacy group with ties to Republican Party donors, Military Times reported.

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Democrats would not attend the meeting because Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) would be there. Democrats accused the group of being more interested in political attacks than creating new policy. 

CVA was one of 18 veterans groups invited to the event, including the American Legion, AMVETS, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Wounded Warrior Project.

“The chairman has the right to invite any organization he pleases, but to pretend that CVA is anything other than a partisan organization that invests time and money into discrediting Democratic members of Congress, and specifically the ranking member of this committee, is disingenuous,” Griffin Anderson, press secretary for the committee’s Democrats, told Military Times.

“We will not pretend it is anything else.”

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House lawmakers are looking to quickly move new legislation on outside care programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including the Veterans Choice Program.

Under the three-year-old Choice program, the VA pays for veterans who live too far away from the nearest Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facility or need a quicker medical appointment to use private doctors and hospitals.

Critics of several proposals to replace the Choice program are afraid that will lead to privatizing the VA. Outsourcing veteran care to the private sector, they fear, will divert billions of dollars from VHA services to medical providers that can’t be as well supervised and that have limited experience caring for veterans.

VA Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinIs a presidential appointment worth the risk? It’s time to end the scare tactics and get to work for our veterans House Democrats open investigation of Trump associates' influence at VA MORE has promised to replace the Choice program with the Coordinated Access and Rewarding Experiences program (CARE) to be revealed this month.

The closed roundtable discussion which Democrats refused to attend covered broad outlines of the upcoming proposals.

“It is disappointing that the Democrat members of the committee did not want to hear ideas on how to fix the VA from a group of veterans, including many patients of the VA and combat veterans like myself,” said Dan Caldwell, the policy director for CVA.

A spokeswoman for House VA Committee Chairman Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) told Military Times that attendees for the event “were invited to participate because of their interest in and serious study of VA’s community care programs. They were invited for that reason and that reason only.”