The first draft of new Veterans Affair health care regulations released to the public shows that veterans will be able to visit private sector health providers on the taxpayer dimes. Supporters of the proposed regulations say that it will provide more choice for veterans. Critics say that President Trump is overreaching in an attempt to undermine public health care for veterans. They are also concerned at the cost to the public, as there will be potentially many more health care visits to fund.
VA officials say that the new rules give veterans more choice. Even though veterans are allowed to visit private practices, it does not mean they will, since the majority of vets are satisfied with their current care. They want to make it easier for veterans to choose their doctors, which the general public is already able to do.
The new rules come after about two years worth of discussion and debate in the veteran community. The goal from the start was to find a way to appropriately reform the programs while not drastically altering the level of care for veterans. With President Trump supporting the regulations, opponents are concerned that he is simply working to eventually privatize the VA health care system.
As it stands, the VA health care system is made up of 7 different programs. Each program has its own criteria for eligibility and payments. The VA Choice program is the most recognizable, and has been in place since 2014. This program means that veterans who live far away from a medical facility, or have a long waiting period can seek service from local health care instead.
Time will tell if these new rules officially come into effect. However, there is no doubt that the discussions and debates around appropriate health care for veterans will continue for many years to come.