Trump says Ocasio-Cortez ‘is correct’ that the ‘VA is not broken’ and is ‘doing great’

Abbie Bennett
April 25, 2019 - 1:38 pm

© Jack Gruber, USA TODAY

President Donald Trump and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez agree -- the Department of Veterans Affairs “is not broken.”

In a tweet on Wednesday, the president said the VA isn’t broken, but only because his administration fixed it.

“Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is correct, the VA is not broken, it is doing great,” the president wrote. “But that is only because of the Trump Administration. We got Veterans Choice & Accountability passed.”

Trump signed into law last year the MISSION Act, which expands private healthcare options for veterans now receiving care from the VA. The community care program, part of the MISSION Act, which would allow veterans to receive care from private doctors when wait times, distance from VA facilities or care needs call for it is set to go into effect June 6.

The “Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act” was signed into law on Aug. 7, 2014, by former President Barack Obama.

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Ocasio-Cortez said of the VA at a town hall earlier this month, arguing that veterans would not benefit from the “for-profit healthcare industry,” the VA provides “some of the highest quality” care for veterans, and those who support private care for veterans are looking to benefit the pharmaceutical industry.

"They are trying to fix the VA for pharmaceutical companies, they are trying to fix the VA for insurance corporations, and, ultimately they are trying to fix the VA for a for-profit healthcare industry that does not put people or veterans first," she said. “And so we have a responsibility to protect it.”

Several veterans organizations, advocates and legislators argued that the MISSION Act’s rollout of its community care program should be delayed because of concerns about physician training and qualifications and the stability of the IT systems that will facilitate the program.

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said the VA will meet the June 6 deadline despite those concerns.

“We’re going to technically be ready by June 6 but practically we all know that because of incumbent systems that are inherited because of changes in technology that have to be made … we’re going to have to stumble before we walk,” Isakson said at a committee hearing April 10. “But our goal is to walk and then run and do so successfully.”

Rep. Phil Roe, top-ranking Republican on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and other Republicans called Ocasio-Cortez’s comments “offensive.”

“Apparently ignorance is bliss when it comes to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and her views of VA. It is evident that she paid little attention to the scandalous treatment of veterans that occurred several years ago by some in the very agency created to serve them,” Roe said in a statement to Fox News.

“From veterans waiting 30-60 days for an appointment, suicide hotlines going to voicemail, to the rationing of medicine and vast cost overruns, this department is failing on multiple fronts,” Steube said in a statement. “To say that this is the level of care those who put their lives on the line to defend our nation deserve is frankly offensive.”

Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee came to Ocasio-Cortez’s defense in a tweet Wednesday, saying that the VA “is not broken and it’s not perfect. It provides some of the best veteran care in the country — that's a fact — but red tape and wait times are unacceptable. I’d ask (Rep. Phil Roe) not to tell members to shut their mouth. (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) represents veterans, just like the rest of us.”

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