SEIU - Questionable: John McCain's Record on Veterans' Health Care

From 'Coalition of the Willing' to 'Coalition of the Waiting,' McCain Leaves Vets Behind

Concord, New Hampshire – Senator John McCain's visit to New Hampshire this week will no doubt include conversations about the Coalition of the Willing – but campaign speeches continue to overlook the growing Coalition of the Waiting at home.

Among those waiting are the 47 million Americans without health care coverage, and an increasing number of veterans whose once-reliable Veterans Affairs health care system is now failing them. Senator McCain, a veteran and respected war hero, has repeatedly voted against fully funding the VA.  And as a candidate for president, McCain is proposing to dismantle the VA health care system, giving veterans a voucher or debit card and leaving them to fend for themselves against the insurance companies. That would be the end of VA health care – the end of America's promise to care for our veterans throughout their life time.

At a time when record numbers of veterans are coming home from war with stress disorders and complex injuries, we need to know why:

McCain Was One of 13 Senators To Vote Against Increases In Veterans' Health Care.  In 2006, McCain voted against an amendment to add $430 million for outpatient and inpatient health care and treatment for veterans. Amendment passed 84-16.  [HR 4939, Vote #98, 4/26/06]

McCain Voted Against A $2 Billion Increase In Veterans' Emergency Funding.  In 2005, McCain voted against an amendment that would increase funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs by $1.98 billion and designate it as emergency spending.  Over half of the funding would have gone to veterans' regional health networks and to provide mental health care and treatment.  Amendment failed 46-54.  [HR 1268, Vote #89, 4/12/05]

McCain Voted Against A $10 Million Increase In Readjustment Counseling for Veterans.  In 2005, McCain voted against an amendment that would provide an additional $10 million for the Readjustment Counseling Service, offset with a $10 million reduction in the HealthVet account.  The amendment failed 48-50.  [HR 2528, Vote #242, 9/22/05]

Two Days After Iraq Invasion, McCain Voted Against A $1 Billion Increase For Veterans.  Two days after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, McCain voted against an amendment that would increase spending on veterans' programs by approximately $1 billion and put the same amount toward deficit reduction. The amendment failed 49-51.  [SCR 23, Vote #74, 3/21/03]

McCain Voted Against Rolling Back Tax Breaks for the Rich to Fund Health Care for Veterans.

In 2006, McCain voted against an amendment to make veterans' health benefits a mandatory program, spending $104 billion over five years. The funding would have been offset by closing corporate tax loopholes and rolling back the Bush tax cuts for millionaires. Amendment rejected 46-54. 

[SCR 83, Vote #63, 3/16/06]

New Hampshire for Health Care, a project of SEIU, is part of Americans for Health Care, a national grassroots campaign pushing for access to quality, affordable health care for every American. Health Care Voters have waited long enough for comprehensive health care reform, and will attend Senator McCain's town hall in Nashua this week to highlight the gaps in his health care proposal.