Medical Advocate: Senate VA Bill ‘Sabotages’ Vets’ Ability to Access Civilian Care

The founder and chair of a group dedicated to reducing hospital infection deaths told the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Thursday that a bill backed by the Senate Wednesday to address the backlog of veterans awaiting medical care “is designed to protect union jobs, not ailing vets.”

The bill drafted by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, “will not save the lives of vets stuck on the wait list,” said Dr. Betsy McCaughey, chair of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. “This bill as currently written is designed to protect union jobs, not ailing vets.”

McCaughey, former lieutenant governor of New York state, complained that the VA “is run largely by unions and for unions.”

“One of the culprits is this 316-page union contract full of mind-numbing rules that prevent assigning an employee to a new task, a new work shift, a new building, or reprimanding someone on the staff for misdeeds or just poor performance,” she said.

McCaughey said the unions fought a $9.3 billion initiative unveiled nine months ago that would give vets on waiting lists access to civilian care, “but the unions fought it as hard as they could.”