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Senator Rand Paul Talks Veterans Issues in Bowling Green

Lisa Autry

U.S. Senator Rand Paul says a more hybrid approach is needed in providing health care to the nation’s veterans.  He told a veterans group in Bowling Green on Wednesday that they should be able to get more care locally. 

Speaking at the Joint Executive Committee of Veterans Organizations meeting, Senator Paul said the nation can’t keep building billion-dollar VA hospitals and that much of the care veterans receive could come from their local doctors.

"I think if you have a war-related injury like an amputation, a gunshot, a burn, post-traumatic stress, I think the VA hospital should specialize in those things," Paul said.  "If you need routine care, and the military has promised to give it to you, maybe we should do it locally and it might be less expensive and more convenient for the veteran."

Senator Paul has said the quality of care at VA hospitals is good, but their distribution of health care is bad.  He said treatment is often rationed through long waiting lists under the single-payer military health insurance system.  Congress approved “Choice Cards” in 2015 in response to the backlog at VA facilities.  The cards allow vets to go outside the V-A network for private care if they meet several conditions, including living more than 40 miles from a VA clinic.  However, Paul said the implementation has not been seamless and more remains to be done.

After his speech, Paul distanced himself from Donald Trump’s verbal attack on the parents of a Muslim U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq.  The Republican lawmaker from Bowling Green declined to say whether Trump should apologize to the family of the late soldier.

"I do think that anyone who served their country no matter what their religion, and particularly someone who lost their child, that's something we should appreciate," Paul said.

Asked if it’s getting harder for him to support Trump, Paul said there’s no question that the billionaire businessman would be better for Kentucky than Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. 

Paul is seeking a second term in the U.S. Senate and is opposed by Democratic Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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