Our Opinion: Approve the bill

Opponents of a measure to make it easier for military veterans to see private-sector health care providers instead of relying on the Department of Veterans Affairs have one big complaint: Doing that could lead to privatizing the VA, they complain.

Horrors! Take control of veterans’ health care away from the bureaucrats who have refused — not just failed, but refused — to get the VA’s house in order? Why, the very idea!

Many veterans are satisfied with the quality of medical care they receive from VA hospitals and other facilities. Hundreds of thousands of VA personnel do their very best to fulfill the nation’s obligations to veterans.

But it appears some veterans still have to cope with lengthy wait lists for treatment. There is evidence some in the VA have tried to cover up such lapses. That, along with enormous waste of taxpayers’ money by the bureaucrats, makes it clear change is needed.

A limited initiative of allowing veterans to seek care in the private sector, at government expense, already is in place. But it will run out of money within the next several weeks.

The House of Representatives has approved a bill that would give veterans more options in seeking private-sector care. It provides $51 billion more in funding for that program.

Senators should approve the bill and send it to President Donald Trump for his signature. Instead of defending the bureaucracy, lawmakers who worry about the VA should be demanding it make reforms that could make the private-sector program unnecessary.