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.”