Col. Rob Maness, the conservative senate-hopeful, released a plan to entirely overhaul the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, demanding less bureaucracy within the federal agency and abolishing the VA medical system altogether.
Maness, who is running against incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), proposed the seven-point plan titled “Freedom For Veterans Plan” after revelations that nearly 40 veterans died due to long wait-times at VA hospitals in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming. Also, it was just reported that the Obama administration was told of the issue immediately after being elected back in 2008.
But, Maness said the VA scandal is not a time for “rhetoric or faux resignations,” calling out those who are asking VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. Rather, Maness said the entire VA system is inefficient and ineffective.
“Politicians, including President Obama, were warned of the massive shortcomings the VA bureaucracy presented and the dire consequences that could result,” said Maness. “It’s shameful that no action was taken. These airmen, soldiers, sailors and marines kept their promise to us – risking everything for our freedom.”
First, Maness proposes that Shinseki not be replaced, but the job of VA Secretary be removed altogether. Maness said the VA’s budget is approximately $152 billion, the second largest federal agency. But Maness said the money simply goes towards a “bloated bureaucracy and often-duplicative infrastructure.”
Secondly, Maness proposes that the VA medical system be abolished. Maness said one-third of the department’s budget is spent on Veterans Health Administration Department. Maness said veterans are often times “get trapped in bureaucratic, inefficient, top-down, government-run system with government-paid doctors, nurses and staff.” By eliminating all spending on duplicative infrastructure, overhead, and personnel, Maness said veterans will be more free to receive quality healthcare.
Thirdly, Maness says legislation needs to be enacted that will protect veterans and their families healthcare benefits. Also, Maness said that a simple medical identification card should be issued, so that veterans can present it to a wide range of healthcare providers without any trouble.
Fourthly, Maness proposes that in order to “keep it competitive,” grants to incentivize private sector companies which specialize in medical care especially important to veterans, such as prosthetics, physical therapy, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and post traumatic stress (PST) care, should be introduced and promoted. And, Maness said this will help innovate and develop new therapies and treatments for veterans.
Fifthly, Maness said that the military should adopt active duty programs, such as the proposed US Special Ops Command PTS program, that will help veterans and their families cope, citing that 22 veterans commit suicide everyday.
Sixth, Maness addresses veterans homelessness, which the US Department of Housing estimates at approximately 57,000 homeless vets on any given night. Maness notes that the FY2015 VA budget funnels $1.2 billion into “combating” the issue, but Maness said this is nearly $22,000 per vet or double the estimated average cost of rental housing in the US. “Get this money directly into the hands of those who need it most and eliminate the wasteful bureaucracy that allows so many vets to sleep on the streets each night despite a 10-figure budget,” Maness says.
Lastly, Maness says that the best possible healthcare for veterans without delays can be accomplished without adding any new costs to the VA budget, so that they (veterans) will not have new expenses.
Maness said both of his political opponents, Cassidy and Landrieu, have not had much to say on the VA scandal, noting that Cassidy has only condemned the matter, but not offered a solution. As for Landrieu, the Democrat Senator has yet to acknowledge the scandal.
“The truth is, neither Bill Cassidy nor Mary Landrieu served in the Armed Forces and neither of them are familiar with the VA system,” said Maness. “But both of them voted for the Ryan budget just a few months ago that slashed veterans’ retirement, neither has led on VA reform, and both of them will move on when a new story of the day emerges.”