Bernie Sanders’ VA Plan: Provide ‘Medically Necessary Gender-Affirmation Surgeries’ and ‘Abortion Care’

DES MOINES, IA - NOVEMBER 09: Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during the Climate Crisis Summit at Drake University on November 9, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. Sanders spoke about the current state of climate change in relation to U.S. policy. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Monday unveiled his $62 billion plan to revamp the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), promising to end the exclusion on what the presidential hopeful describes as “medically necessary gender-affirmation surgeries” and emphasizing the need to provide “abortion care.”

The former chair of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee unveiled his VA plan on Veterans Day, proposing $62 billion in new funding to revamp the VA.

“Today, due to serious underfunding, the VA’s infrastructure is crumbling and in vital need of repair. VA hospitals have gone without needed updates and maintenance, and outpatient clinics and Vet Centers have gone unopened,” Sanders’ plan states.

“As President, Bernie will invest at least $62 billion in the infrastructure needed to provide the cutting-edge health care services our veterans have earned and deserve,” it continues.

A good portion of Sanders’ plan is devoted to guaranteeing quality health care for veterans, which he believes Medicare for All will enhance.

“Coupled with Medicare for All, veterans will be able to rely on a health care system that is working for them, not against them; a system focused on a person’s health, not their ability to pay,” his plan states.

Part of that quality medical care, Sanders assesses, should include the ability to undergo taxpayer-funded “medically necessary gender affirmation surgeries” and receive what he calls “abortion care.”

As president, Sanders would “end the VA’s blanket exclusion on medically necessary gender-affirmation surgeries” and  “ensure that women veterans will no longer be forced outside the VA system for basic women’s health services, including fertility treatment, abortion care, or specialized cancer treatment and prevention services.”

Sanders is not the only presidential candidate to focus on taxpayer-funded “transition-related” surgeries as part of his VA plan.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) promised “gender-affirming and culturally-competent” health care for LGBT service members and veterans as part of her comprehensive veterans plan released last week.

“A Warren VA will ensure that every LGBTQ+ person can get the equitable, gender-affirming, and culturally-competent health care they need,” Warren’s plan states.

“That means providing all medically necessary care related to the health of transgender people, including transition-related surgery, and allowing providers discretion to deem gender-affirming procedures as medically necessary based on an individualized assessment,” it continues, noting that such surgeries will be available under her $52 trillion Medicare for All plan as well.

“This care will also be available under Medicare for All. Professional medical associations recognize the need for transition-related surgery,” her plan states.

“VA’s blanket exclusion policy of medically necessary treatment is not grounded in medicine; it should be repealed,” it adds.

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