Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley has a five-point policy plan to assist United States veterans, including a vision to require members of Congress to obtain their healthcare through the Department of Veterans of Affairs (VA), Breitbart News has learned.
Haley’s campaign exclusively shared her policy plan with Breitbart News ahead of a busy day on the New Hampshire campaign trail on Tuesday, where she will unveil her Veterans for Nikki Coalition.
“Hold the VA Accountable”
Haley’s vision for a mandate requiring members of Congress aims to bolster Congressional Oversight of the Veterans Health Administration and incentivize Congress to optimize it for the nation’s veterans.
Currently, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management notes that House and Senate offices offer group health insurance plans to members and staff through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).
Members of Congress and their staffers were eligible for Federal Employee Health Benefits until 2014 when an Affordable Care Act amendment established a requirement that members obtain coverage through employer-sponsored insurance or the exchange.
“Increase Access to Healthcare”
Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, also aims to “increase access to healthcare” for veterans, including allowing them to choose what hospital and which doctor they go to and tackling wait times.
Last year a JAMA study found that veterans waited an average of 29 days for primary care appointments at VHA medical centers, the Patient Engagement Hit reported. Wait times also averaged “38.9 days for a primary appointment” at community-based clinics.
Moreover, the Americans for Prosperity Foundation last year obtained documents that reportedly show the VA created an additional layer of review for veterans who are already eligible for community care, potentially prolonging wait times or denial of community care. This “could lead to longer wait times or denial of community care,” per the organization.
Additionally, Haley plans to increase access to Telehealth, which upwards of 2.2 million veterans used in the fiscal year 2022 under expanded access during the pandemic. Haley would make it so the expanded access is permanent if elected.
“Tackle Mental Healthcare”
The third facet of her plan is to “tackle mental healthcare.” The Wounded Warrior Project notes one in three veterans suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Thirty percent of veterans also have suicidal thoughts, according to a 2019 WWP survey reported by the Military Times.
Haley envisions having healthcare providers screen for mental health in the same way that physical health symptoms are looked for while giving them the freedom to choose their own providers. She also plans to speed up treatment for substance abuse, which advocates have testified takes months in some cases to access, as the Military Times reported in April.
“Support Veterans from Start to Finish”
Another aspect of Haley’s vision includes helping veterans with transitions into civilian life “long after they leave the military.” This entails making veterans’ benefits, such as tax credits, “available to veterans’ spouses” and providing them options for using GI bill funds beyond education.
“Make Our Veterans Proud of Their Service”
Finally, Haley seeks to make “veterans proud of their service” by eradicating “wokeness” and eliminating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives from the military. She also would continue investing in the military, “so it is the strongest in the world.”
Haley has multiple immediate family members who have served. Her husband, Michael Haley, is a member of the South Carolina National Guard and a full-time federal military technician. In 2013, he deployed a combat zone in Afghanistan while she served as Palmetto’s State executive.
Mitti Randhawa, Haley’s brother, is also a veteran, having served as an army major with a deployment to Iraq during Operation Desert Storm.
As governor, she signed a law cutting taxes for veteran retirees, as the Associated Press noted at the time. Additionally, Haley signed an order that established a veterans policy advisory committee to understand veterans’ needs an improve policy.