Saturday, August 23, 2008

MCCAIN WOULD SLASH VETERANS' HEALTHCARE

Aaron Glantz, Inter Press Service - If John McCain is elected the next U.S. president, wounded veterans could be in for a world of hurt.

On the campaign trail, the Republican's presumptive nominee has talked of a new mission for the Department of Veterans Affairs and argued that veterans with non-combat medical problems should be given vouchers to receive care at private, for-profit hospitals -- in other words, an end to the kind of universal health care the government has guaranteed veterans for generations.

"We need to relieve the burden on the VA from routine health care," McCain told the National Forum on Disability Issues last month. "If you have a routine health care need, take it wherever you want, whatever doctor or health care provider and get the treatment you need, while we at the VA focus our attention, our care, our love, on these grievous wounds of war."

The Republican senator argues that giving veterans a VA card that they can use at private doctors would shorten the long wait times many veterans face in seeing government doctors, who are nearly universally viewed as among the best in the world.

A recent study by the RAND Corporation found that "VA patients were more likely to receive recommended care" and "received consistently better care across the board, including screening, diagnosis, treatment and follow up" than that delivered by other U.S. health care providers.

Virtually all veterans groups oppose McCain's plan. The Veterans of Foreign Wars' national legislative director has said the VA card would "undermine the entire system".

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