NEWS: Sanders Urges VA Secretary to Cut Bureaucratic Red Tape and Expand Health Care for All Veterans

WASHINGTON, April 1 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, on Tuesday urged Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Dennis McDonough to simplify and strengthen the VA’s ability to deliver quality and comprehensive health care to all veterans, including those suffering from exposure to burn pits and other toxic substances. Sanders argued that the VAs budget should go to, “health care, not towards a huge bureaucracy to determine whether or not you were exposed.”

Sanders’ remarks came during a hearing for the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs titled Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2021.

“Health care happens to be a human right, for all Americans in my view, and especially those people who have put their lives on the line, such as our veterans,” said Sanders. “So, I think, instead of spending a huge amount of money in the federal bureaucracy to figure out whether or not somebody was exposed to toxins from a burn pit, [or] exposed to Agent Orange, maybe we just say that if you were a veteran who put your life on the line to defend this country, you are going to get all of the health care you need.”

At the hearing, Sanders emphasized the urgent need to simplify eligibility requirements and more efficiently allocate taxpayer dollars to ensure all veterans are able to receive quality health care from the VA.

In 2021, Sanders introduced the Veterans State Eligibility Standardization Act and the Veterans Dental Care Eligibility Expansion and Enhancement Act to ensure universal dental care coverage for all veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and eliminate long-standing barriers to health care for veterans across the country.