A group of veterans supporting Pennsylvania Senate hopeful John Fetterman (D) formally launched on Monday, calling out Republican candidate Mehmet Oz as “devoid of any principles” in a letter.
Veterans for Fetterman includes more than 100 veterans in Pennsylvania who have said they will be supporting the Democrat in the general election and attended campaign events for him. In their letter, they targeted Oz for pushing dubious claims and products as a doctor on television and for not doing more to support a veterans health care bill before it was passed by Congress.
“Not only did Oz look the other way while Republican Senator Pat Toomey obstructed passage of the bipartisan, common sense PACT Act — which guarantees health care for Veterans that have been exposed to toxic burn pits — to play politics with the health and wellbeing of millions of Combat Veterans, he wants to go further,” the letter from the group said.
The Senate passed legislation in early August, following the House’s vote, focused on giving veterans exposed to toxins expanded health coverage. Toomey noted that he was not against the goal of the bill itself but opposed how money was allocated for in the legislation.
Oz’s campaign told The Philadelphia Inquirer in August that he supported the bill.
“These veterans served our country and those who are sick deserve the best health care possible,” said Oz spokesperson Brittany Yanick.
Oz’s campaign website says that he once did his training at a VA hospital in Philadelphia. The veterans group criticized him for his apparent support of privatizing health care for veterans.
“Rather than working to improve our quality of care through the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Health Administration, which provides health care coverage to U.S. military veterans and free treatment for all service-related injuries Dr. Oz has advocated forcing Veterans to receive health care through private health exchanges,” the group wrote.
The group is likely referring to an interview he did with WESA earlier this year in which he said at one point on the subject of veterans, “I actually think they should get the same insurance I get if I’m serving in the U.S. Senate.”
Members of Congress pay for their health care coverage through a health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, though those costs are subsidized by the government, according to NPR.
The formal announcement of the group’s launch and the letter come less than a month ahead of the November midterms. The Pennsylvania Senate seat has become one of the most closely watched races in the upper chamber this cycle.
Democrats see the Senate seat as a key pickup opportunity, as recent polling has shown the race tightening. A USA Today-Suffolk University poll released earlier this month, for example, showed Fetterman ahead of Oz at 46 percent to 40 percent respectively.
Jack Inacker, who served as an Air Force nuclear weapons system specialist and is a co-chair of Veterans for Fetterman, said that veterans “see Dr. Oz as an existential threat to their way of life and a path forward for the country.”
“John has been very vocal and open in the support of veterans across the board,” Inacker, also caucus chair for the Philadelphia Democratic Veterans Caucus, said, later adding that Fetterman “actually wants to get out there [and] improve the VA, and not sell it to the lowest bidder.”