Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 12, 2016

Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Proposes Private Option for Veterans Stuck on VA Wait Lists

Jeff Miller Veterans Affairs VA private option

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller wants veterans stuck on VA waiting lists to get health care for more than 30 days to have the option of getting private health care.

In a letter to Eric Shinseki, the Florida Republican urged the Veterans Affairs secretary to offer private care to any veteran waiting more than 30 days, and plans to offer legislation codifying the practice.

“Mr. Secretary, the accusations currently facing the Department — which increase in volume and gravity by the hour — have understandably led to a crisis of confidence on the part of many of our veterans who no longer feel that VA is willing and able to provide them with the timely care they have earned and deserved,” Miller wrote in a one-page letter to Shinseki on Thursday.

The Florida Republican said while he hopes Shinseki acts accordingly, “I cannot be satisfied with a short-term fix.”

“To that end, I will be introducing legislation in the next week that will require that any veteran who is unable to obtain a VA appointment within 30 days of application, be offered the option to receive non-VA care,” Miller said.

He also requested that the Veterans Affairs Department notify Congress if it needs additional funds to offer this sort of expanded care.

No word yet on exactly when Miller will introduce a bill to allow veterans to go outside of VA medical facilities for health care, but with veterans issues suddenly at the forefront of the congressional conversation, the House could move swiftly to approve Miller’s proposal.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has also proposed giving veterans a private option.

And meanwhile, Senate Veterans Affairs Chairman Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., announced Friday he is writing a new VA accountability bill in consultation with the White House.

  • rvauthor

    That is an excellent proposal. Unfortunately, it does not indicate if Rep. Miller is providing the federal funding to make it happen.

  • Andre Leonard

    Short of fully privatizing the V.A. Mr. Miller’s proposal is the next best option.

    The V.A. may very will eventually be empty at last.

  • cbarneym

    To the pro-privatizers,

    Yes, the VA could be privatized but the results will not be pleasant.

    For example, a May 5, 2014 HealthCare-Now article, “Health Insurance CEO pay Skyrockets in 2013,” said:

    “Chief executive officers at Fortune 500 health insurance companies, who have opposed new regulations under the Affordable Care Act, emerged this month as one of the ACA’s greatest beneficiaries. Recently filed financial reports show that average compensation for these top nine health insurance CEOs rose by more than 19 percent in 2013, while several of the nation’s largest insurers more than doubled CEO pay.

    The biggest winner was Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, who received a staggering $30.7 million compensation package in 2013. This marks the largest payout to any health insurance executive since passage of the ACA and exceeded the compensation of the next two highest paid health insurer CEOs combined. The Bertolini pay package, which included a large “special one-time performance-based retention award,” represented a 131 percent increase over his $13.3 million compensation in 2012.”

    Hospital CEO’s didn’t fare as well, but are not hurting either, as reported by a 3/5/14 NJBIZ article, “Medical millionaires: The compensation packages of hospital heads are drawing attention,” which said that:

    “In a time when every dollar spent in the health care industry is being carefully scrutinized, the level of compensation for a leader and a recently retired leader of two of New Jersey’s largest not-for-profit health care systems is raising eyebrows.

    Ronald J. Del Mauro received $21.6 million in compensation in 2012, the year he retired as chief executive of Barnabas Health, the state’s largest hospital system.

    Joseph Trunfio, the current chief executive of the $1.6 billion Atlantic Health System, was paid $10.69 million in 2012.” (

    Therefore, privatize the VA and help Republicans reward their corporate donors.

    • Layla

      How does it reward anybody to send these men to regular hospitals for treatment? You want the poor to have access but not these men. Corporate donors are all the same and donate to both parties.

      Disgusting comments.

  • Oscar’s Wilde

    Although confused about the sources of human intelligence, collectivists claim that society must be subjected to centralized control by small groups of quacks and academics.

  • Layla

    Would Rep. Miller and other Members of Congress be happy with a month long wait with a serious illness? It’s time to give these men the same treatment Congress has and put Congress under the VA.

    This would be fixed immediately. Shame on you.

  • Layla

    Put Congress and Congressional staff on VA healthcare immediately. Let’s see if we can’t move this along.

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