Politics 101 – An Article Written for the Veterans Reporter News – PART 1

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Dr. Tom Waters, VA and VA Healthcare – 2017

My Latest Update on VA HEALTHCARE. 

I hope you read my previous article about the “secret plan by the VA Secretary to combine VA Choice and TRICARE.”  If you didn’t read it, please find a December 1st edition of the paper and read the article.  If you’ve already read it, let’s move forward and talk about the consequences and the “roadmap” to get there.  Remember that I said, “I, and many veterans, believe that the real intent of this plan is to privatize the VA and this action will allow the DOD to jettison healthcare responsibilities for military retirees.”

Yes, I sincerely try to keep these articles as ‘non-political’ as possible but it is the Politicians who made promises to veterans and have decided that they do NOT need to honor many of those promises, especially where veteran and military retiree healthcare is concerned.

Before I proceed, let me establish why I believe I am qualified to make the statements I am about to make.  First, my undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Science in Economics.  Second, I worked my way through college by completing Income Taxes for individuals, families, and businesses.  I’ve also supervised the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Lastly, I have kept current by doing Federal and State Income taxes since 1971.  While Nevada does NOT have a State Income Tax, there are 43 states that do have an Income Tax and I’ve completed taxes for persons from several of those states.  In addition to Nevada, the other Non-State Income Tax states are: Alaska, Florida, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.

So, what has TAXES got to do with veteran healthcare?

The GOP Tax Plan is “looming” on Capitol Hill and it will impact every American in either a positive or negative way.  Let me say ‘up front’ that I am NOT opposed to a Tax Plan, but I am opposed to pushing through a Tax Plan with NO discussion with serious economists or debate with those who represent us in Congress (BOTH House and Senate).  Why not make the Tax Bill bi-partisan so, when the negative impacts hit us all, we can blame the Democrats too?  Currently, since it was crafted without Democratic input, it is strictly the GOP that we’ll all have to praise if results are positive or blame if the results are negative.

The President stated, and most GOP Representatives and Senators repeat, that this will be the “Biggest Tax Cut in History.”  I won’t debate the validity of that statement but I will debate the fact that if you cut taxes (INCOME) and still pay the bills, you will have less income available to pay those bills.  Every economist agrees that the Federal Deficit will increase unless other cuts are made.  They are currently estimating a $1.4 Trillion increase to the already staggering federal deficit.

So, what other cuts can be made?  Well, there’s Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the entire Veteran Healthcare System.  Do I hear “Privatize” anywhere in the conversation?  Think about it.  Where does all this money come from (to pay the BILLS) if everybody is getting a Big Tax Cut?

I’m sure you’ve also heard about the “suspension” of the new Department of Veterans Affairs photo identification card program but allow me to spell it out for you again here.  The new ‘free identification card’ was ordered by Congress in 2015 as a way to give veterans proof of service at businesses without having to carry a copy of the DD-214.  The VA stated that the new cards for ALL “Honorably Discharged” Veterans would be here in November 2017 and that veterans could apply online.

As of this article, the Department of Veterans Affairs has suspended applications for its new identification card program due to a large number of applicants.  Are we saying that the VA didn’t know how many veterans are out here?
I want you to think about the cost of implementing this program and, personally, I wonder if this is merely one of the first victims of the massive Tax Cut.

And, according to my previous article, why is there a “secret plan by the VA Secretary to combine VA Choice and TRICARE?”  I would not be as concerned if I knew someone with our experience (as veterans and military retirees) had our back and really wanted to protect our earned benefits.  Unfortunately, only 18 percent of the 435 U.S. House of Representatives members and 20 percent of the 100 U.S. Senate members have served in the military.  Please do not take this statement as an indication that they do NOT want to help us.  It’s possible that they simply do NOT know or understand our needs.

Now, I’d like to take your attention to a Bill in the House of Representatives (H.R. 4457) entitled the “Veterans Empowerment Act.”  The purpose of this act is: “To amend title 38, United States Code, to establish the Veterans Accountable Care Organization and to provide veterans access to private health insurance plans, and for other purposes.”
Ask yourself what the “and for other purposes” actually mean for veterans and military retirees.  It sounds like a “slippery slope” to privatization of the VA Healthcare system.  I hope I am wrong but, “If it walks like a duck …..”