Congressman Rothfus Ducks Questions About VA Privatization

Congressman Keith Rothfus with World War II veteran Vincent Lulli of Chippewa / photograph by John Paul

Congressman Keith Rothfus with World War II veteran Vincent Lucci of Chippewa / photograph by John Paul

U.S. Congressman Keith Rothfus avoided answering questions during a recent interview with the Beaver Countian about his views on whether healthcare services provided by the Veterans Health Administration should be privatized.

Republican Congressman Rothfus has been an outspoken critic of the VA, submitting several op-eds on the subject to the Beaver Countian for publication over the past few months. Rothfus has highlighted wasteful spending within the VA, severe backlogs in the processing of claims, and problems our veterans are having gaining timely access to healthcare.

The Congressman’s remarks about the VA in many ways mirror his criticism of “Obamacare,” which he has called a “government-centered health care approach” that reduces access to healthcare, creates troublesome layers of bureaucracy, and hurts the economy. Rothfus has repeatedly voted to repeal the measure.

During a recent interview with Congressman Rothfus, the Beaver Countian asked if he saw any parallels between the two governmental programs, and if he thought it was time to phase out VA healthcare by issuing insurance cards to our nation’s veterans that could be used at private healthcare facilities.

It was a question the Congressman did not want to answer.

“Understand right now what happened in the most recent scandal people did not do their job, period,” responded Rothfus. “There are individuals who were notified at the Pittsburgh VA, that certain veterans, between six and seven hundred, were eligible to receive care. Whoever the person responsible was did not pick up a phone and even schedule people to come in for an appointment.”

When asked pointedly for the second time, “Do you think there should be discussions about privatization,” Congressman Rothfus again dodged the question, responding, “Right now I want to know what happened, my focus is what happened.”

VA healthcare privatization is a proposal that has been gaining momentum within the Republican Party over the past month.

House Speaker John Boehner said he supported the idea of privatizing the department two decades ago, and that recent controversies have renewed his interest in the effort, telling the Columbia Dispatch newspaper, “I still like the idea, and especially now.”

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney have also both spoken out in favor of privatization efforts. “Let our veterans choose the health care that they need and want the most, and not have to be bound to just going to the VA,” Senator McCain told the Roll Call newspaper.

Several veterans advocacy groups have stated their opposition to the idea of privatizing VA healthcare, saying the department provides very specialized care the private sector is less experienced with, and that the VA provides care more affordably than the private sector could.

“The more money we spend out on the private sector on veterans, the less money there is to care for those that are within the system,” Joe Violante, national legislative director for Disabled American Veterans, told the online news outlet Vox.

Carl Blake of Paralyzed Veterans of America also came out against privatization, telling Vox that “The VA is a system constructed to provide holistic care for the life of that patient. The private system is not constructed with those ideas in mind.”

 

17 comments

  1. Yea, keep ducking! It’s cheaper than fixing the problem. There is no shame with the VA and this sad situation!

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  2. Hey, if the veterans still want the VA (despite its issues) and the framework is there, I think it’s worth trying to fix. Interesting parallel between the VA system and Obamacare.

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  3. our government at its finest an the general people let it happen the people are to blame not the president not that a VA. the general public heads are up their ass. this shits been going going on for the last 15 years or more

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  4. Rothfus is a Tea Party douche and an insigificant back bencher.  Besides wasted time and boatloads of money debating the ACA repeal, he’s accomplished zero.  He’s a tool of the wingnut right and, until he gets approval from his Tea Party overseers, won’t answer a question directly.  What an assclown.

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    • Ah another sad soul still stuck believing that there is a 2 party system left in place! The late great George Carlin said it best, ” It’s one big club and we ain’t in it” sd wake up! The longer the “club” keeps the serfs infighting the longer these issues will go unresolved!

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  5. Rothfus is nothing more than a spin doctor for the Tea Party. Married money and needed something to do with his time.  He certainly has no original ideas of his own and likes the word “no” even though he can’t offer solutions. Look, the VA issues have been going on for years, even decades. He needs to be replaced with someone who wants to work through issues instead of having meaningless one hour sessions with people who are looking for anything free. It isn’t sexy to be a right- winger. It’s pathetic and frankly, his letters to me only reinforce how incompetent he truly is. His only role is that of OBSTRUCTIONIST-that’s where it begins and ends. 

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    • And I guess you think Nobama is competent. Taxed Enough Already= TEA Party. Must be nice to be independently wealthy like you where money is no object. Oh wait, Quality queen must mean Welfare queen. Yep, just what I thought, you don’t pay taxes!

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      • Nobama- you are a fool. I am college educated, own my own business, and have never taken one dime that I haven’t earned working. I would love to see your credentials….no wait…let’s not bother with your background. I already know you don’t know what you’re talking about…

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      • I might be a fool, but your an IDIOT! College educated? Maybe. Business owner? Not likely if your a Nobama supporter. Selling Avon is not a business no matter what you think. Still say your a welfare poverty pimp.

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    • Nobama – you really are a jerk. The fact that your hatred for our President is part of your name just shows how ignorant you are. Right now, I am on the West Coast enjoying a wonderful vacation while you wallow in your Pennsyltucky mentality. No need to deal with a mental midget…

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  6. Just remember on election day, ALL incumbents must go.

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  7. I’m a Veteran and I say it’s time for the VA to go.  Private insurance would be more than adequate for most vets. It would be certainly more accessible too.  The VA is a dinosaur.  Inefficient and uncaring.  It has always been that way going back to the mid 1960s when I first had contact with them. I avoid the VA like the plague but I can afford to. Many can’t. 

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    • Not a veteran myself, but every veteran I’ve known who’s spoken on this subject knows that VA care is substandard care.  That cuts across generations and wars and it’s not a majority opinion of those I’ve known, it’s unanimous.  
      The only people that the VA serves well are the bureaucrats, politicians, and activist who have a personal financial stake in the program continuing.  What to do about it is a liberal vs. libertarian philosophical argument.  All would agree that our country has an obligation to care for veterans, that is after all a principle that goes back to the Revolutionary War.
      The question is, has the VA’s failures been the result of the wrong people running it, or is it a matter of the government being ill equipped to dispense human services,?  I tend to think the latter, and that health services ought to be market driven just like any other good or service.
      I believe this report that the congressman ‘ducked’ the question and that is disappointing.  Unfortunately, Jerry Mungo’s comments also ring true, and there really is little difference between the political parties.

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  8. He may have ducked the question publicly, but he has been willing to hear me out personally on va issues. And that’s a good place to start, just hoping it goes somewhere for the sake of our vets!

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  9. Keith Rothfus hasn’t posted one of his anti-whatever Obama op-eds in a few months now.  I find it highly unusual that he hasn’t taken this opportunity to lambast President Obama once again… and again… ad nauseum.

    Note in JP’s article – “When asked pointedly for the second time, ‘Do you think there should be discussions about privatization, ‘Congressman Rothfus again dodged the question, responding, ‘Right now I want to know what happened, my focus is what happened.’ “.

    Why did he tone down his tea-party rhetoric NOW? Why does he sound almost normal in THIS article? Could it be because election day is getting closer and THIS time he faces Erin McClelland as an opponent?

    I don’t know enough about Ms. McClelland to draw an opinion (yet), BUT let’s face it. ANYONE could do a better job than Keith. Could it be that he is lying low, hoping people will forget and re-elect another incumbent to office? Maybe so, but sorry Keith, you will NOT get MY vote. For the umpteenth time, I did NOT vote for you the first time and I will NOT vote for you… EVER.

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  10. Best Idea I have heard come out of Washington DC in a while. It makes perfect sense

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