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In-Depth Interview: Author and Health Care Expert Suzanne Gordon Fights Against Privatizing Veterans Healthcare

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Suzanne Gordon has been covering health care issues for decades, and her new book makes the case against privatizing the Veterans Healthcare Administration.Gordon’s 19th book is The Battle for Veterans’ Healthcare: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Policy Making and Patient Care. She has been covering health and healthcare for over 30 years, and is co-editor of the Culture and Politics of Health Care Work series at Cornell University Press.  You can order the book here.  Gordon’s website is here.

We begin with discussion of the efforts to privatize the VHA, and the powerful interests that would profit from it.  While politicians and the media highlight some problems at the VHA, the phony “crisis” is seen as a pretext to promote privatization.  Gordon points out that many of the backlogs occur at the separate Veterans Benefits Agency, which establishes eligibility for medical care; at the “socialized” VHA, wait times to see a doctor are often shorter than in the private sector.

During this hour-long interview, we are joined by 3 veterans who are very happy with the care they get from VHA.  Diane Rapun, a veteran of the Iraq war; Prof. Samuel Jay Keyser and Lou Kern, who both served in the Vietnam era.  Each has a different experience, and all of them oppose the efforts to privatize.

Gordon notes that the 2014 Choices program allows some vets to seek private care, but it opens the gates to more outsourcing, when the better investment is to increase VHA resources.  And she profiles the “Commission on Care”, which was stacked with supporters of privatization.