On the Issues: How the Presidential Candidates Would Tackle VA Reform

Veterans Affairs Department file photo

Federal management isn’t necessarily the hottest topic on the campaign trail, but just about all of the 2016 presidential contenders have ideas about how they would reform the Veterans Affairs Department and improve health care for veterans in the wake of the patient waitlist manipulation scandal. Those ideas range from eliminating the VA altogether and moving some of its functions to the Defense Department (Republican Ben Carson) to “reorganizing and streamlining” the Veterans Health Administration but fighting wholesale privatization of veterans care (Democrat Hillary Clinton).

We have looked at the major candidates’ views on two major components of potential VA reform: how (or whether) employees at VA should be held more accountable for misbehavior and lapses in care, and whether some services are better left to the private sector. Our information is based primarily on Government Executive’s coverage, the candidates’ platform statements and transcripts from the debates; it is part of a regular series we will run looking at how the candidates would manage the federal bureaucracy. Upcoming topics include their views on the size and role of government, and on federal pay and benefits. We will make updates as the campaigns progress and candidates drop out of the race. 

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