Mitt Romney was in South Carolina today to lunch with some veterans who told him about their struggles with getting health problems dealt with quickly and efficiently by the VA.
From the NYT Caucus Blog:
After listening to several men talk about problems they had encountered with their Veterans Affairs benefits and health care, Mr. Romney mused that it sounded like some free-market competition might help.
“When you work in the private sector and you have a competitor, you know if you don’t treat this customer right, they’re going to leave me and go somewhere else, so I’d better treat them right,” he said. “Whereas if you’re the government, they know there’s nowhere else you guys can go. You’re stuck.”
He added, “Sometimes you wonder if there would be some way to introduce some kind of private sector competition, somebody else who could come in and say, you know, each soldier gets X thousands of dollars attributed to them, and then they can choose whether they want to go with the government’s system or a private system.”
The idea is similar to Romney’s plan for Medicare, which wold allow recipients to choose a private plan instead of the classic government-run health care structure.
The plan did not go over well with one veteran among the 12 discussing the VA with Romney. Auston Thompson, a veteran of the Iraq War and former Marine, told TPM after the session that though the idea of the plan was sound to his fiscally conservative ear, the implementation would likely lead to problems.
“Eventually it would become too much of a nuisance,” Thompson said. He doubted a voucher system would cover the benefits like the existing VA system does. “Private health care is already so expensive, you’d need some kind of health care reform to make it work.”
Jerry Newberry, a spokesman for Veterans Of Foreign Wars, told TPM his group has long opposed policies along the lines of Romney’s proposal.
Nice timing, Mitt. Instead of trying to find new ways to give more of our national treasure to Wall Street, maybe he should come up with some ways to actually create jobs. As for the VA, how about cancelling a couple of Defense Department boondoggle contracts and giving spending the money on health care for vets?