Suzanne Gordon

Suzanne Gordon is the Senior Policy Fellow at the Veterans' Health Care Policy Institute, as well as a journalist and co-editor of a Cornell University Press series on health-care work and policy issues. Her latest book is The Battle for Veterans' Healthcare: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Policy Making and Patient Care. She has won a Special Recognition Award from Disabled American Veterans for her writing on veterans' health issues, much of which has appeared in The American Prospect. Her website is www.suzannegordon.com.

Recent Articles

D-Day for the VHA?

Trump officials set the agency up to fail with a new program that outsources veterans health care to the private sector.

On Thursday June 6, the Trump administration’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) leadership launched its new Veterans Community Care Program (VCCP). Established under the VA MISSION Act of 2018, the VCCP will outsource the care of millions of America’s most vulnerable veterans to an army of private hospitals, physicians, and other providers. But rolling out this new initiative on anniversary of D-Day, the allied invasion of Normandy during World War II, could not be more ironic. Seventy-five years ago, American troops were well prepared for the invasion of Normandy. Today the troops on the home front, the thousands of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, clerks, and administrative staff who have been assigned to help veterans cope with what the Trump Administration has called a “revolution” in veterans’ health care, are deeply concerned about the future stability of this new program. Over the course of...

AOC Defends an American Socialist Success: Veterans’ Health Care

While proponents of privatization, ignoring the evidence, find one more reason to attack her. 

As top Trump-appointed Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) leaders pursue their efforts to privatize the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Congress is desperately in need of members who will assertively oppose VHA privatization. It needs senators and representatives who will champion adequately financing and staffing the nation’s largest, and only publicly funded, fully integrated health-care system. Newly elected Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has joined the handful of Democrats who have opposed VHA privatization, which proponents are promoting through the VA MISSION Act passed in the last session of Congress and set to be implemented in June. At an April 17 Bronx town hall on the VA, in which I also participated, Ocasio-Cortez told an audience of veterans and VHA caregivers, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” She argued that the VHA “provides some of the highest quality care to our veterans,” and warned against those...

Putting Veterans at Risk

Even VA privatizers agree that the MISSION Act is likely to stumble.

David Zalubowski/AP Photo
A potentially costly and harmful experiment in veterans’ health care is scheduled to begin eight weeks from now. The Veterans Community Care Program (VCCP), created under the VA MISSION Act of 2018, will channel millions of the nation’s most vulnerable veterans to private-sector doctors and hospitals. VA leadership is determined to launch the program on June 6, in spite of federal reports and Capitol Hill testimony by both friends and foes of privatization that say it is not ready for rollout. This was made abundantly clear at an April 10 Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing. Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-GA), a leading proponent of outsourcing veterans’ care from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to private doctors and hospitals, predicted, “We’re going to stumble before we walk.” It was a staggering admission: VA leaders and Republicans like Isakson seem willing to send waves of patients into the private sector where the care is...

The VA Is Privatizing Veterans’ Health Care While Launching a Campaign to Deny It

Acutely aware that its privatization plan has little support among veterans, the VA has launched a PR blitz to obscure what it's doing. 

The Trump administration’s multipronged effort to privatize the VHA and push millions of veterans out of the VA system remains deeply unpopular among American veterans. But rather than adjust its proposals to meet the needs and wishes of veterans, the administration has a better idea: deny that the changes—which include funding private care at taxpayer expense—amount to privatization at all. Over the past several weeks, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie and his advisors from the Koch brothers-funded Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) have launched a PR offensive refuting critics who contend that the agency’s plan to funnel money to private care will lead to VHA privatization. In multiple press releases, Wilkie adamantly denied that channeling millions of veterans—and billions of taxpayer dollars—to private-sector health care providers amounts to VA privatization. Wilkie even convinced four former VA secretaries, including one who served under President...

Inside the Administration’s Plan to Push Millions of Veterans into Private-Sector Health Care

The VA's plan to implement the recently passed MISSION Act could seriously imperil veteran health care—and push the department even further toward privatization. 

On January 30, Robert Wilkie, the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs unveiled a plan that could push millions of veterans out of VA care and into the private sector. Wilkie’s announcement follows the passage of the VA MISSION Act of 2018, legislation that gives Wilkie broad latitude to develop guidelines allowing far more veterans to get private-sector care at taxpayer expense. Critics, including veterans organizations and Democratic members of Congress, have warned the plan could seriously weaken veteran health care and move the VA perilously close to privatization. As my colleague Jasper Craven and I predicted, Wilkie’s plan is to expand private-sector access for veterans currently at the VHA. But instead of basing this access on the needs of individual patients or the quality of private providers, Wilkie focuses exclusively on wait times. Under his proposal, any VHA patient who has to drive for more than 30 minutes for a primary care or mental health...

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