The Veterans’ Perspective – Does Trump’s Plan to Fix the VA Trump the Existing VA Plan?

By Elmer Ellsworth

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Amongst the feedback from our article last week on Walmart’s Project Greenlight, we were asked if Donald Trump’s newly released plan to fix the VA was a good idea. Well, Donald Trump’s plan may be a better idea than Walmart’s Project Greenlight …. But, in fairness to Walmart, Project Greenlight is not intended to fix the VA.

Combat Veterans Expect More Details in a “Plan” – Veterans’ intuitively know that the details of a plan are critical to success. From the Veterans’ Perspective, the plan to fix the VA released by Trump is lacking of the type of specifics that would be required to make any such plan successful.   Trump’s plan is merely high level statement of objectives. And, some pandering.

Some Good Ideas – But Not New – Several of Trump’s objectives are excellent, even if they are not “new” ideas. In particular, allowing Veterans to seek health care in any facility accepting Medicare is an interesting idea with real merit. The idea of focusing on the “whole” veteran so mental health issues get as much attention as physical ones is similarly a great idea. In fairness to the VA, it shares that goal. Similarly, methods to allow Veterans to choose to use “civilian” heath care facilities are already being implemented to some degree by the VA.

Trump Does Not Address the Problems – The Trump plan does not address the significant policy and manpower issues that are the underlying symptoms for the severe problems facing the VA. It is these problems that have caused the VA to become overwhelmed. In particular, the regulations regarding service connection disability determinations and the thresholds for granting of entitlements are not addressed or even mentioned in Trump’s plan. Similarly, the VA has apparently been trying to hire qualified mental health professionals and has been aggressively trying to hire qualified Veterans. Simply put, the enlarged scope of the VA and significant manpower shortages are issues that Trump’s plan at best glosses over.

Heard it All Before – Veterans have heard all the promises, sound-bites and buzzwords from many different candidates and for many years. In typical Trump fashion, he claims that he will be able to do what nobody else has. And, he says he will actually do it because he is Trump. If his name was Patton, maybe he would be more convincing to the Veterans’ Perspective.

No Dog in this Race – Of course, every Veteran will have their own view and opinion. The Veterans’ Perspective will not endorse any candidate. So, sorry Trump, no endorsement here.

Veterans’ Perspective Ideas – In our prior article “A Day at the VA,” we proposed that it would be less expensive for the VA to provide complete health care to all veterans (that meet some minimal service obligation) than it is to administer the current VA claim system. Similarly, we suggested that with the implementation of Obama Care such an approach may have only a marginal cost impact to the taxpayer.

Health Where his Mouth Is – If Trump were to say that he would use the VA health care system for his family and himself as his primary care provider we would be much more confident that the VA would finally be fixed to the standards that Trump himself is setting. In the end, while Trump’s proposal is lacking of details and may not be a significant step forward from the ideas currently being implemented, his proposal is at least better than putting out a green light.

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