Betsy McCaughey reports for Human Events on the latest efforts to reverse positive Veterans Administration reforms.

President Obama and the Veterans Administration bureaucracy are already sabotaging the VA reform law passed in August. The ink is barely dry on the 8.6 million Choice Cards that supposedly allow vets to see a doctor outside the delay-plagued system. But Obama’s budget tries to snatch the $10 billion allocated for choice and allow it to be spent however VA top administrators want. It’s a sickening betrayal.

Even worse, VA Secretary Robert McDonald is telling federal lawmakers that this underhanded move will better serve “VA system priorities.” That’s the problem. He’s more interested in protecting “the system” than vets. It’s all about bureaucratic turf and union jobs.

With a straight face, McDonald says it has “nothing to do with us trying to gut the Choice Card or anything like that; it was about flexibility.” Flexibility for VA bureaucrats, not for ailing vets who need it. Removing the funding definitely will gut the program, because the law says the Choice program expires whenever funding runs out.

At a February 2 press briefing, VA administrators facetiously claimed that sick vets don’t want to see outside physicians, and that use of the Choice Cards was “much lower” than they had expected. That’s a whopper. When asked, they couldn’t provide any specifics.

Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, can. He reports that vets get the runaround when they call the VA for permission to use the Choice Card. “The VA is making a concerted attempt to undermine anything that looks like choice.” Vets are told they don’t meet the requirement for living 40 miles or more from a VA facility, or they haven’t endured an unacceptably long wait for care, or their care isn’t medically necessary.

VA administrators are lying to Congress when they say vets don’t want choice. A Tarrance Group poll from the first week of February found that 88 percent of vets polled said it is “extremely” or “very important” to increase their health care choices.

Consumer-driven health care, rather than government-driven health care? What a concept.