In 2018, Congress passed then-President Trump’s signature veterans’ legislation, the VA MISSION Act, which was designed to shift many more patients from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to the private sector through a newly formed Veterans Community Care Program (VCCP). Lawmakers assured wary stakeholders that the VCCP would “supplement, not supplant” the VHA. This law was about options, they were told, not privatization.

Three years on, it’s clear that those were empty promises. VHA services are being rapidly replaced by private-sector care, even as studies continue to confirm that non-VA care generally is of lower quality and higher costs.

A recent study reveals the situation has become dire. Between April 2019 and December 2020, VHA’s total monthly encounters shrank by 25 percent. Over that same period, VCCP continued its non-stop expansion, rising to 34 percent of all care delivered to veterans at taxpayer expense. That cost, too, is dramatically growing, doubling over the last four years and currently consuming 20 percent of the VHA’s health care budget, with no upper limit in sight.  (Continue reading here…)

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