• Hillary Issues Massive VA Reform, Promises Accountability At All Levels

    At a New Hampshire campaign stop, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton issued a major VA reform platform and said the agency needs accountability at all levels, from top-level management to entry-level employees.

    “Today we are failing to keep faith with our veterans,” Clinton said. “Long wait times for health care, absolutely inexcusable claims that are sitting in backlogs, both originally to be determined and appeals, little or no coordination between different government agencies responsible for serving our veterans. These problems are serious, systemic, and unacceptable, and need to be fixed.”

    But Clinton didn’t back down from previous remarks bashing Republicans, who she says want to put veterans at the mercy of the private insurance market.

    “As we work to improve the VA, I will fight as long and hard as it takes to prevent Republicans from privatizing it as part of a misguided, ideological crusade,” Hillary said.

    “We’ve seen how they try to seize on anything they can do to advance this goal of theirs which will throw our vets into the private insurance market,” she added.

    “Privatization is a betrayal, plain and simple, and I’m not going to let it happen.”

    She did say, however, that vets should have more choice about their care, which could involve the department pioneering more partnerships with private sector facilities, so that no veteran has to wait weeks and months for care. And this should apply no matter what the veteran needs, or where the veteran lives.

    Her action plan involves meeting with the secretaries of the VA and Department of Defense within the first 30 days of taking office to ensure that there systems are synced up.

    “If the laws or regulations need to be changed, we will have begun putting that into a priority list even before I become president,” Clinton said. “I want us to hit the ground running.”

    She also focused on female veterans. Many facilities don’t have OBGYN clinics, and many prosthetics are designed exclusively for men. Female vets also need better family leave policies and more child care. Additionally, she expressed zero tolerance for sexual assault.

    Clinton’s strong statements are an attempt to placate veterans, who are furious at remarks she delivered while on MSNBC with Rachel Maddow. During this interview, Clinton insisted that Republicans have overblown largely non-systemic problems at the VA, in order to forward an ideological agenda. Instead, she noted that surveys show satisfaction among the veteran population regarding care. She later admitted that problems at the department are in fact systemic, a point repeated during her speech Tuesday.

    Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley released his VA plan Monday. (RELATED: Just Before Vets Day, O’Malley Issues VA Reform Plan)

    Like O’Malley, Hillary wants to look back at service records for LGBT members who were discharged solely for their orientation and upgrade them.

    Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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