Earlier this month, we learned that the Biden administration is considering closing two Veterans Administration hospitals in New York City. One is located in Brooklyn and the other is in Manhattan. If those two facilities were shuttered, the only VA hospital left to cover all of the veterans in the metropolitan area would be the one in the Bronx. The announcement drew an immediate rebuke from Staten Island Republican Representative Nicole Malliotakis and several veterans groups. Now, with no further negotiations taking place, Mayor Eric Adams is wading into the fray, declaring that he will challenge the White House on this decision and fight to keep the facilities open. (NY Post)
Mayor Adams said Saturday he plans to lobby the Biden administration hard to drop its plan to close two Veterans Administration hospitals in New York City.
“They need to be open, and I’m joining my federal and state lawmakers because they gotta be open,” said Adams following an unrelated event in Lower Manhattan.
“There is no reason that we are closing those hospitals. We fought before, and I’m going to Washington DC, and we are going to fight again. We need those hospitals open,” added Adams, a supporter of the president who sometimes refers to himself as the “Biden of Brooklyn.”
The VA is saying that this argument is much ado about nothing because the proposed closures are one part of an ongoing review and the decision hasn’t been finalized. Even if they are to be closed, the actual closures might not happen for years or even decades. That doesn’t matter to the politicians who are getting involved in this food fight, however. They clearly want to get out in front of the problem and take that option off the table.
The White House should have been able to anticipate this upfront. Given all of the other scandals that the VA has been embroiled in and the attention that’s been focused on the plight of veterans returning from overseas, who even suggests closing VA hospitals, particularly in an election year? The VA is proposing transferring cases currently being served by the two hospitals and handling them via a contract with private medical providers as part of a “strategic collaboration” to treat veterans. But that’s been tried in other locations with mixed degrees of success at best.
It’s already a fairly lengthy trip for veterans seeking medical care to come to any of the three hospitals. Closing these two facilities would make the trip vastly longer for the thousands of veterans in the area. Given the current conditions in the city, this would be particularly bad news for any ailing veterans who are forced to rely on public transportation.
When Joe Biden was running for office, he talked about being a “unifier” who would make allies across the aisle. I was skeptical at the time, but now he’s managed to bring a Republican congresswoman and the Democratic Mayor of one of the biggest, bluest cities in the country together under one political roof. Unfortunately for Uncle Joe, the issue he managed to bring them together on was opposition to one of his plans.
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