Dems Are Outraged by AHCA's Proposals, But Are Okay With VA Policies That Kill

Jennifer Van Laar
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Posted: May 07, 2017 10:00 PM
Dems Are Outraged by AHCA's Proposals, But Are Okay With VA Policies That Kill

Source: Facebook/David Brayton

During the lead up to Friday's vote on the American Health Care Act, Democrat politicians took to Twitter, the House floor, and cable news shows to tell voters in no uncertain terms that passage of this bill would equal a death sentence for the chronically ill in our society. 

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) said during House debate that “tens of thousands of Americans will die if this bill passes." 

And here's Bernie Sanders:

And Elizabeth Warren:

In addition to predictions of death, Democrats claimed people with pre-existing conditions were not protected by the bill. (False.)

Then, they claimed Republicans celebrated with a kegger. (Also false.) 

Where was the outrage of the same people over the last eight years as problems with the VA medical centers and policies were brought to light? People - veterans - WERE dying, and the VA's policy of rationing healthcare is STILL killing veterans.

Pelosi voted against three different VA Accountability bills. Cilline voted against VA accountability bills in 2014 and 2017 (but for the 2016 version). Sanders, the former Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman, claimed concerns about treatment at VA Medical Centers were "overblown" by conservatives when they came to light in 2014, and resists any reforms that would lead away from the VA's single payer model. Veterans in Warren's home state complain that she's not helping them receive the treatment they need.

The VA's transplant program is a glaring example of the system choosing have's and have-not's.

David Brayton, an Air Force veteran, lives in the Los Angeles area. When he was diagnosed with a terminal lung disease in late 2015 and told he needed a lung transplant he thought it would happen right there in LA, since there are world-class transplant centers at UCLA and Cedars-Sinai. Makes sense, right? Not in the VA's healthcare rationing scheme. VA only pays for transplants that are performed at one of 13 VA-approved regional transplant centers.

The VA wanted Brayton and his wife, who are self-employed and have one son still living at home, to relocate to Seattle or to Madison, Wisconsin while he waited for a transplant - which could be up to a year. The VA would have to pay for their housing, but his wife would either have to stay in California to run their business or go with him and attempt to find another way to make a living.

The VA's transplant policy has "likely contributed to thousands of veterans' deaths," according to Jamie McBride, a VA whistleblower who has taken his concerns to Congress.

In addition to forcing sick veterans to relocate up to thousands of miles away for a transplant, the VA has flat-out denied transplants to veterans, supposedly for not being good candidates, who were later approved for transplants at private hospitals.

John Moore, a Minnesota veteran, waited four years for a transplant, and died waiting. Instead of allowing Moore to have the procedure done at the nearby University of Minnesota, the VA forced him to travel to Houston every three months during his wait time.

A University of Pennsylvania study found that "veterans that were more than 100 miles away from the closest transplant center are disadvantaged. They have less access to lifesaving transplants, which directly then correlates to a higher chance of dying."

Still, the VA, and their defenders in Congress, cling to this mode of administering healthcare.

Fortunately, after a year and a half of requests through the VA bureaucracy, assistance from his Congressman, Rep. Steve Knight, and a media campaign, David Brayton received VA approval this week for his lung transplant to be performed in Los Angeles.