WASHINGTON, D.C. — Recently re-elected U.S. Representative Warren Davidson, of Troy, is seeking to help fix issues with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system by introducing a bill that would put members of Congress on that same healthcare.
“If we don’t care for our veterans, it seems hard to inspire people to want to serve in the future,” Davidson said.
The idea behind his “Lead By Example” bill is not to punish Congress with VA healthcare, but to inspire Congress to improve VA healthcare to as good as what the public perceives Congress’ current healthcare as being. Ultimately, the goal is to raise the quality of care that veterans receive.
“People have a perception that people of Congress have high quality healthcare, and people have an awareness that veterans do not,” Davidson said.
Davidson is a veteran himself, having served in the Army for 12 years after enlisting after he graduated high school. Davidson also attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and served as an Army Ranger.
Davidson was inspired to pursue this bill by his own military service, by the service of others, and by the VA healthcare scandal, which he never forgot. Davidson said there is a broad consensus that the VA needs fixed.
“Part of wanting to run, I’ve got friends who are exasperated to the point of suicide,” Davidson said. “Numerous veterans in a day are committing suicide … we would like to think the VA would be in a position to help them.”
For him, this bill goes back to the idea of leadership, how Congress should “lead by example” and have the same healthcare as those they ask to put their lives on the line for the country.
“You don’t ask someone to do something you’re unwilling to do yourself,” Davidson said.
With this bill, all of the members of the Congress’ interests would be aligned with those of veterans — using the same healthcare.
“For me, one of the key things in it is to show our veterans … we need to live under the same care that you have,” Davidson said. “We’re going to stand there in line in some cases.”
Davidson explained that he has received encouragement from other members of Congress. He also added that there have been approximately 35 bills that address issues within the VA healthcare system that have passed the U.S. House of Representatives and are waiting to be voted on in the Senate.
“Congress is paying attention to the issue,” Davidson said. “We’re going to get this solved.
“This particular bill doesn’t prescribe any solution other than the Congress and the VA work together for a year,” Davidson said, during which Congress and the VA “sit down and figure out how to make it work.”
Davidson said that Congress already spends a lot of money on healthcare, so Congress can then allocate that money to the VA. Subsequent bills would then be needed to implement some of those changes to the VA.
“There’s a very strong will in Congress to get this fixed,” Davidson said.