Secretary Shulkin: “VA health care will not be privatized on our watch”
“President Trump is dedicated to maintaining a strong VA, and we will not allow VA to be privatized on our watch. What we do want is a VA system that is even stronger and better than it is today. To achieve that goal, VA needs a strong and robust community care program.”
Veterans Affairs secretary: VA health care will not be privatized on our watch
By David Shulkin
July 24, 2017
As a physician, my professional assessment is that the Department of Veterans Affairs has made significant progress over the past six months — but it still requires intensive care. In order to restore the VA’s health, we must strengthen its ability to provide timely and high quality medical care while improving experiences and outcomes for veterans.
I believe the best way to achieve this goal is to build an integrated system that allows veterans to get the best health care possible, whether it comes from the VA or the private sector.
This is not a novel idea. No health care provider delivers every treatment under the sun. Referral programs for patients to get care through outside providers (known as Choice or Community Care at the VA) are as essential to the medical profession as stethoscopes and tongue depressors.
In addition to providing some of the best quality overall health care in the country, VA delivers world class services in polytrauma, spinal cord injury and rehabilitation, prosthetics and orthotics, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress treatments and other behavioral health programs. The department plays a critical role in preparing our nation’s doctors and nurses — 70% of whom train at VA facilities. And we lead the nation in innovation, with VA research having contributed to the first liver transplant, development of the cardiac pacemaker, advancements in treatments for PTSD, cutting-edge prosthetics, and many other medical breakthroughs.
All of these factors underscore that fears of privatization are simply unfounded. President Trump is dedicated to maintaining a strong VA, and we will not allow VA to be privatized on our watch. What we do want is a VA system that is even stronger and better than it is today. To achieve that goal, VA needs a strong and robust community care program.
Veterans deserve the best. If a VA facility isn’t meeting the community standard for care, doesn’t offer a specific service, or doesn't have an appointment available when it's needed, veterans should have access to care in their community.
This is precisely what they have earned and deserve. It's what the VA is working with Congress and Veterans Service Organizations to deliver. And it's what the system needs to remain a valuable resource for our country’s great veterans, now and in the future.