Many conservative supporters of President Trump were saddened to hear that the nominee to run the Veterans Affairs would not be pushing for privatization of his department. David Shulkin promised on Wednesday that as Secretary of the VA he would seek major reforms of the department but that he would not allow the VA to be privatized.
According to Shulkin’s prepared remarks:
“There should be no doubt that if confirmed as secretary, I will seek major reform and a transformation of VA. 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 my watch.”
Shulkin has argued that privatizing some portion of the VA could help improve the quality of care but that “Veterans still tell us that even with the ability to seek care in the community, they want VA service. Should I be confirmed, I intend to build an integrated system of care that would strengthen services within VA that are essential for veteran well-being and use services in the community that can serve veterans with better outcomes and greater value to the taxpayer.”
Again, while Shulkin remains committed to keeping the VA under government control he also believes that pursuing greater privatization is the quickest and surest way to improve care for our veterans.
“We must explore expansion of public-private partnerships rather than continue building medical centers that have large cost overruns and take too long to build.
With the support of the members of this committee and others in Congress, veterans and their service organizations, the dedicated employees of VA and the American people, we can fulfill President Lincoln’s promise and our sacred mission ‘to care for him who shall have borne the battle. There is no nobler mission or higher calling for me, and it would be my distinct honor and privilege to lead this effort.”
While Shulkin may not push the VA as far to the right as conservatives like, there is reason to be optimistic based on the favorable comments he’s made about private health care options for our veterans. The bottom line is that our veterans deserve the best care available and the VA should be fighting for that kind of care whether it’s provided by the government our by the private market.