May 15, 2024

Ranking Member Takano’s Statement on Republicans’ Harmful VA Privatization Package

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Libby Carlson -- 771-216-2280

WASHINGTON, DC -- House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Mark Takano (CA-39) released the following statement after Committee Republicans introduced the Senator Elizabeth Dole 21st Century Healthcare and Benefits Improvement Act (H.R. 8371), a package negotiated without House Democrats or Veterans Service Organization (VSO) input, that will pour scarce VA dollars into private care and complicate all future veteran legislative priorities:  

“After months of time-wasting and inaction by the House Majority, with almost nothing to show for it, Veterans’ Affairs Committee Republicans are rushing this package to the floor after hiding the ball from members, Veterans Service Organizations, and veterans.  

Why the rush and secrecy? House Republicans have taken the good name and policy of a Democratic bill, Rep. Julia Brownley’s H.R. 542, the Elizabeth Dole Home Care Act—that passed the House in December—loaded it up with VA healthcare privatization provisions and reintroduced it as a package. In doing so, House Republicans have hijacked a historically bipartisan, bicameral process for veterans’ packages, to push their main priority of privatizing VA healthcare, along with a few other bipartisan provisions, and claim VSO support for the entire package. However, the majority of funds authorized by this bill are allocated to community care provisions that push VA further towards privatization of healthcare and a failing pilot program. Private care has less oversight than VA care and lacks the quality-of-care standard that veterans receive inside VA. This moves us farther from our goal of bringing more veterans back into VA care. 

In addition, this package is written in a way that hides the full cost. It uses temporary two-year authorizations of programs, creating privatization fiscal cliffs that will come due in just two years. This jeopardizes current and future veterans’ legislative priorities that have any cost from becoming law because we will be paying for this package for years to come.  

House Democrats are committed to passing laws that bolster the mission of VA and serve veterans. Last Congress, House Democrats joined President Biden to champion and pass The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, that is providing lifechanging benefits to millions of veterans. We are not shy about providing VA the funding and resources it needs to serve veterans. But Congress must craft veterans’ legislation with an honest accounting of the cost in a way that doesn’t sacrifice current healthcare and benefits. This package misses the mark and does not serve veterans and taxpayers by including over $1 billion for failing and costly programs that are not fiscally responsible. I have urged Chairman Bost to do the right thing, remove the wasteful privatization, and bring to the floor a bill that will not undercut VA’s mission and will best serve veterans.”