Shulkin looks to carry on predecessor’s plans for VA
WASHINGTON — David Shulkin, the nominee for secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, on Wednesday echoed many of his predecessor’s plans and priorities to reform the beleaguered agency, rather than supporting the more radical changes proposed by President Donald Trump and some conservatives.
During his Senate confirmation hearing, Shulkin, a physician who has worked as the VA’s undersecretary of health for 18 months, backed off an idea that was part of Trump’s campaign to allow all veterans to access private sector at the government’s expense. Shulkin signaled he would follow at least some of former VA Secretary Bob McDonald’s outline for VA reform, which includes creating a network in which private-sector care would augment treatment at VA facilities.
“I will seek major reform and a transformation of VA… but the Department of Veterans Affairs will not be privatized under my watch,” Shulkin said during the hearing.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, predicted there would come a time when Shulkin would have to choose between his path for VA reform and the president’s plan.
“You’ll have to deal with a president [who] has positions that are in stark contrast to the positions you have taken,” Tester told Shulkin. “Sooner or later, you will come to a crossroads, where you’ll have to pursue what you think is best for veterans or what the president tells you is best for veterans.”
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