Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) March 14, 2017 – Newly appointed Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin said he is against the full privatization of veterans care under his leadership. The Senate unanimously confirmed President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the agency on February 13.
“New leadership is vital to improving the VA and its services,” said Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans attorney. “The new VA secretary will have to make sure that the reforms he pursues are in the best interests of our veterans. The ultimate goal is to have a system that makes health care and resources more accessible for veterans, and one that puts them first.”
During his Senate Veterans Affairs Committee confirmation hearing, Shulkin promised to accelerate improvements through “major reform and transformation” of the VA. He said, “There will be far greater accountability, dramatically improved access, responsiveness and expanded care options, but the Department of Veterans Affairs will not be privatized under [his] watch.”
The committee’s top Democrat Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., cautioned Shulkin that his plans for VA reform may conflict with Trump’s. During his election campaign, Trump had suggested more privatization was necessary to remedy the “broken” VA system plagued with long wait times.
Shulkin responded by saying he and Trump agreed that more needed to be done for veterans. However, his opposition to privatizing VA services may clash with the views of the president’s advisers and some Republican lawmakers. They are pushing for more private care. At the same time, Shulkin will have to ease the fears of some veteran’ organizations that do not want large parts of the VA system to be turned over to private doctors.
In response to several senators, Shulkin also said he would overhaul the problematic Choice Program. The Choice Program allows veterans to seek VA-paid private sector care if they reside over 40 miles from a VA center or are unable to get a VA appointment within 30 days. The program has experienced delays and caused frustration among patients and doctors alike.
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