SOURCE: Paralyzed Veterans of America

Paralyzed Veterans of America

June 08, 2016 20:06 ET

Paralyzed Veterans of America Outraged Over "Caring for Our Heroes in the 21st Century Act"

Draft Bill Pushes Most Catastrophically Injured and Low-Income Veterans Into Private Pay-As-You-Go Health Care

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - June 08, 2016) - Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) today voiced its shock over a bill drafted by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), and supported by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), that would radically alter the delivery of health care for the most vulnerable American veterans by burdening them with medical costs that they can't bear, for care that in almost every case, is not the best option.

"The premium support model offered in Congresswoman McMorris' bill will put the lives of catastrophically disabled and low-income veterans in jeopardy by forcing them into private sector systems that already face their own waitlist crises and are ill-equipped to provide the specialized care these veterans need," explained Paralyzed Veterans of America Executive Director Sherman Gillums. "Paralyzed Veterans of America is appalled that a member of our U.S. Congress would ignore the choice made by thousands of veterans who prefer VA health care and take the first step toward absolving Congress of its responsibility to resource and oversee a veteran-centric healthcare system."

The "Caring For Our Heroes in the 21st Century Act" purports to reform the VA by establishing a Veterans Accountable Care Organization and Veterans Health Insurance Support that would incentivize veterans to leave the VA system of care. It provides no mechanism to ensure veterans' care is properly coordinated in the private sector, or that veterans receive the most appropriate care. The Act aims to realign the VA medical centers and designates private health care officials for veterans' hospital, emergency and other medical services, but it does not address the capability of the private sector to manage the volume and quality of care that is comparable to the VA system of care they currently rely on.

"Such actions carried out by our legislators suggest a willful ignorance of the struggle our veterans face," continued Gillums. "If this bill becomes law, who will explain to veterans with spinal cord injuries and severe mental health issues that putting them in line for care with the general population, which is outside of the purview of Title 38 and not monitored by Congress, is somehow better for them? As a veteran who underwent rehabilitation in a VA facility and relied on VA healthcare to stay healthy after suffering severe injury, I find it unconscionable."

"To say that Paralyzed Veterans of America's members are astounded by efforts to weaken a VA system that the most vulnerable veterans rely on is an understatement. We agree with those who are tired of hearing story after story of VA's failings, and we fight on the front lines of this issue to ensure changes ensue. We also acknowledge that those changes are happening. But this bill would undermine any progress made, and we strongly oppose this proposal and similar recommendations that mirror this effort. It would essentially make VA a non-governmental entity, which is the very definition of privatized care. In essence, it allows the federal government to renege on the obligation it has to care for our wounded and disabled soldiers for the remainder of their lives after service," concluded Gillums.

About Paralyzed Veterans of America:

Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For 70 years, we have ensured that veterans have received the benefits earned through their service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.

As a partner for life, Paralyzed Veterans also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation and advocates for veterans and all people with disabilities. With more than 70 offices and 34 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans serves veterans, their families and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. (

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    Lani Poblete