Donald Trump has another surprise in store for military veterans—dubbed “losers and suckers” by the outgoing president. Due to the financial stress experienced from COVID-19 by many veterans receiving co-pay prescription drugs from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the VA placed a hold on billing statements on April 6, 2020.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie, obviously on the orders of the Trump White House, has decided to send out a bill to veterans in January 2021 for all prescriptions received from April 6 to December 31, 2020. For some veterans, the bill may top more than $500. And, of course, the bills will begin arriving in veterans’ mail boxes just around the time that Joe Biden is sworn in as president, January 20, giving less informed veterans the false impression that it is Biden who is billing them for 10 months’ worth of prescription drugs.
There is no other reason for Wilkie’s action other than causing additional problems for the new administration. COVID-19′s present surge is likely worse than it was in April and the current economic effects of the pandemic are just as bad as they were last spring. That means that veterans will be no better off, financially, when they are forced to remit hundreds of dollars in back prescription bills to the VA in late January than they were during the past ten months.
Wilkie’s decision was not made in isolation. It is known from various news reports that VA guidance is issued by a troika of wealthy Mar-a-Lago members answering to Jared Kushner. The “Mar-a-Lago Crowd,” as they are derisively known inside the VA, are all private individuals not associated officially with the government. They include Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, Palm Beach luxury concierge doctor Bruce Moskowitz, and Palm Beach attorney Marc Sherman. None of the three are U.S. military veterans. Perlmutter is a veteran of the Israel Defense Force, hardly a qualification to be making life-and-death decisions for millions of U.S. veterans.
As a loyal member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a right-wing group that advances the racism associated with the Confederacy, Wilkie’s top priority as Veterans Secretary has been the protection and preservation of Confederate monuments and cemeteries that fall under the responsibility of the VA’s National Cemetery Administration.
The Biden administration can answer Trump’s mean-spirited action against veterans by issuing an executive order waiving and forgiving veterans’ prescription debts incurred between April 6 and December 31.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).