VA dismisses privatization talk after leadership change

President Donald Trump's decision to dismiss David Shulkin as the secretary of Veterans Affairs stoked speculation th...

Posted: Apr 6, 2018 7:51 PM
Updated: Apr 6, 2018 7:51 PM

President Donald Trump's decision to dismiss David Shulkin as the secretary of Veterans Affairs stoked speculation that the White House would move swiftly to allow veterans more access to private care outside the VA's health system.

But the agency in a statement on Thursday downplayed that possibility, calling suggestions that the agency charged with caring for the nation's veterans was moving in that direction "completely false."

"There is no effort underway to privatize VA, and to suggest otherwise is completely false and a red herring designed to distract and avoid honest debate on the real issues surrounding Veterans' health care," the VA said in a statement released Thursday. The note cited the agency's increases in funding, employees and medical facilities over the past two decades.

Roughly 30% of veterans already see private doctors outside the VA, but some groups, including the influential Conservative Veterans of America which is backed by the Koch Brothers, have pushed for more private care.

Leading veterans groups, including the Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion, have opposed unlimited choice, suggesting that would dismantle the VA.

The statement comes as veterans groups and lawmakers have expressed concerns that David Shulkin's recent departure as VA secretary would lead to a stronger push for government subsidized private care.

After he left the VA last month, Shulkin told CNN he believes that not only would privatizing the VA would be a bad idea, but that advocates of privatization within the administration who saw him as an obstacle worked to push him out.

Congress is debating how to improve the VA and overhaul the Veterans Choice Program, a 2014 initiative that allows veterans who are unable to get timely care at a VA facility to go to a non-VA provider.

"VA is working with Congress to merge all of VA's community care efforts into a single, streamlined program that's easy for Veterans and VA employees to use so the department can work with Veterans to coordinate their care with private providers when VA can't provide the care in a timely way or when it's in Veterans' best medical interest," the VA's statement said.

Thursday's VA statement quotes Republican Rep. Phil Roe, the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs panel, who said, "If we're trying to privatize, we're not doing a very good job." Roe's spokeswoman Tiffany Haverly said in a tweet that they were "unaware" that the release was going to be sent around.

President Donald Trump also said late last month in Ohio that he made changes at the VA because he wanted veterans to "have real choice" and the ability to "run to a private doctor." White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told reporters traveling with the President that day that "there is no intent at this point to privatize the VA."

Defense Department official Robert Wilkie is serving as acting secretary while White House physician Ronny Jackson awaits Senate confirmation to be the department's next secretary.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 343505

Reported Deaths: 7543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23932444
DeSoto23229283
Harrison20527329
Rankin15411291
Jackson15232252
Madison10959227
Lee10719179
Jones9047169
Forrest8723159
Lauderdale7884244
Lowndes7054151
Lamar702989
Lafayette6548124
Washington5595139
Pearl River5196152
Bolivar4954134
Oktibbeha494398
Panola4771112
Warren4728128
Marshall4701106
Pontotoc447773
Union433279
Monroe4330137
Neshoba4281181
Hancock428088
Lincoln4176116
Pike3667113
Leflore3627125
Tate353388
Alcorn350974
Sunflower347694
Scott341176
Adams340988
Yazoo339376
Copiah324968
Simpson322891
Itawamba314680
Coahoma314085
Tippah306568
Prentiss298863
Covington293484
Leake285475
Marion284181
Wayne277543
George272251
Grenada269488
Newton262364
Tishomingo239770
Winston236784
Jasper230648
Stone229637
Attala226373
Chickasaw219060
Holmes200174
Clay197654
Clarke186880
Tallahatchie183742
Calhoun181332
Smith179235
Yalobusha171540
Walthall145748
Lawrence142826
Greene140134
Amite137543
Noxubee135235
Perry133538
Montgomery133044
Carroll126431
Webster121232
Jefferson Davis116734
Tunica114227
Benton106725
Claiborne105331
Kemper102429
Humphreys100133
Franklin87923
Quitman84719
Choctaw82619
Wilkinson78032
Jefferson71328
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 587405

Reported Deaths: 11536
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson853851591
Mobile48932864
Madison37517533
Shelby27280257
Tuscaloosa27171465
Montgomery26172627
Baldwin25399329
Lee17224181
Calhoun15401334
Morgan15170291
Etowah14954370
Marshall13116235
Houston12077293
Elmore10915219
St. Clair10763252
Limestone10725158
Cullman10546205
Lauderdale10255254
DeKalb9508192
Talladega8949188
Walker7793288
Autauga7563114
Jackson7400117
Blount7362139
Colbert6703142
Coffee6365132
Dale5650117
Russell480243
Chilton4771117
Covington4749125
Franklin458181
Tallapoosa4519156
Escambia441383
Chambers3949125
Dallas3743163
Clarke371263
Marion3463107
Pike332579
Lawrence3263100
Winston298773
Bibb290465
Geneva283983
Marengo262467
Barbour250961
Pickens245562
Butler240872
Hale235578
Fayette227065
Henry213945
Monroe202141
Randolph201144
Cherokee199248
Washington185239
Macon170552
Crenshaw168358
Clay166259
Cleburne161345
Lamar151038
Lowndes145455
Wilcox132331
Bullock126542
Conecuh121332
Coosa118329
Perry110528
Sumter110333
Greene99137
Choctaw64425
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The heat wave that controlled our area over the past several days is now behind us. The forecast for the next week looks a bit cooler & less humid.
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