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Donald Trump proposes VA reforms

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Donald Trump has proposed very little in terms of policy beyond building a “beautiful wall” on the U.S.-Mexico border during his quixotic quest for the White House, but as the billionaire real estate mogul begins to lose ground in state and national polls, he is unveiling a plan aimed at reforming the Veteran’s Administration. 

Under Trump’s plan, veterans would be able to receive care from any provider that accepts Medicare. He also promised that all VA hospitals would be staffed with OBGYNs to care for the increasing numbers of female veterans. 

“The plan will ensure our veterans get the care they need whenever and wherever they need it,” he said, according to the AP. 

At a rally announcing the plan, Trump also criticized opponent Ben Carson, pointing out that the retired neurosurgeon who now leads the GOP pack in some polls wants to get rid of Medicare. Carson recently said he would support replacing Medicare and Medicaid with savings accounts, to which the government would contribute $2,000 a year. 

It is rare for Republicans to attack other Republicans for wanting to overhaul or get rid of entitlement programs. That is typically an attack the GOP nominee anticipates from Democrats in the general election. 

However, Trump, whose loyalty to the Republican Party is murky, at best, has not abided by many of the traditional ideological constraints of partisan politics. He has called for higher taxes on the rich, tighter trade restrictions and lambasted a pharmaceutical company for exponentially raising the price of a life-saving drug. 

Trump hasn’t said how much he believes his proposed expansion will cost or suggested how he would pay for it. 

“While Donald Trump rightly proposes more health care choices for veterans and long-overdue accountability for bad VA employees, his ‘plan’ is painfully thin on specifics about how he would implement those principles,” Paul Hegseth, head of the Concerned Veterans of America, told the AP. 

Hegseth also pointed out that veterans can already receive paid care at non-VA facilities under the Veterans Choice Program put in place last year.

For Trump, the veterans plan is a way to show that he is more sensitive to the needs of those who have served in the armed forces than some of his earlier comments would suggest. In the early days of his candidacy this summer, Trump provoked outrage by dismissing John McCain’s war record, saying the former POW is “not a war hero.” 

 

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