Rep. Lamborn looking to provide private health care choice for veterans

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A different approach to veterans’ health care is in the works in Washington. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) says if the Veterans Affairs health care system isn’t working for our veterans, they should be able to get care elsewhere. His legislation allows them to opt out of VA care to use civilian medical providers. Lamborn says it’s time to change the way we do things.

Rep. Lamborn (R-CO) says we need to move away from the status quo when it comes to health care for veterans.

“I think our veterans deserve bold and significant reform,” said Lamborn.

He says in places like Colorado Springs, the VA is not up to snuff, with veterans subjected to long wait times seeking help for PTSD. Lamborn introduced the Veterans Empowerment Act that would give veterans a choice of VA care or private care.

“There are very routine things that a private provider can do just as well or better,” said Lamborn.

Lamborn says veterans are currently required to ask permission to go private with their care. He wants to do away with the bureaucracy and the status quo, which he says, are preventing veterans from getting high-quality care.

“It would produce a lot more significant change than the incremental reform measures that are being proposed right now,” said Lamborn.

Lamborn is looking to revolutionize veteran care because he says efforts in Congress haven’t gone far enough. Some veterans groups say his proposal would dismantle the VA health care system.

“You’re putting over 8 million veterans without the health care that they prefer to use,” said Kayda Keleher from Veterans of Foreign Wars.

She says many veterans she speaks to want to see a fix for VA rather than let it fall by the wayside. Keleher says veterans get unparalleled care through VA with a deep understanding of veteran-specific issues and a sense of community. She says some locations have problems, but in general VA is getting better.

“Our members have definitely noticed a huge improvement over the last three years, and they’re excited to see things keep improving,” said Keleher.

Lamborn’s legislation currently has two co-sponsors. It’s unknown if it will ever come up for a vote.