VA Secretary: Agency in ‘Critical Condition,’ Urges Lawmakers to Reform

David Shulkin has only been Veteran Affairs Secretary for a few months, but the physician has already started signaling his openness to radical reforms.

“The problems in VA won’t be solved through more money, but through management focus and legislative backing”, said Shulkin. It specifically calls for $29 billion over the next decade for Choice, which allows veterans to seek outside medical care from private doctors. It would pay for it in part by cutting some disability benefits for elderly veterans.

Shulkin also announced the soft launch of a White House complaint line for the Department of Veterans Affairs, a program which they hope to have fully operational by August. After Shulkin gave a briefing about the various issues facing the Department of Veteran Affairs – which provides healthcare to 9 million veterans – a reporter asked the VA head about the American Legion’s request. A “soft launch” of that hotline begins Thursday, with plans to be fully operational by August 15. Testing begins Thursday. The telephone number is (855) 948-2311.

Shulkin spoke at a White House news briefing on the “state of the VA”.

Our accountability processes are clearly broken“, Shulkin said.

Spicer, aides said earlier this month, will likely appear on camera less in the coming weeks as the White House considers how to revamp a communications department.

The head of Veteran Affairs on Wednesday candidly assessed the “chronic problems” facing US vets, including barriers to quality health care, rampant drug addiction and a staggering 1,500 disciplinary actions brought against the federal employees charged with ensuring their well-being.

Citing employees caught watching porn at work or convicted of a DUI, Shulkin said the agency should be able to dismiss these employees.

“We need new accountability legislation, and we need that now”, Shulkin said.

He was speaking on the “state of the VA”, having completed his first 100 days as VA secretary.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin described the current state of the VA as “In critical condition” but said they are taking important steps to improve the organization during a press briefing at the White House on Wednesday.

He offers a blunt diagnosis: “There is a lot of work to do”. Many primary care centers are understaffed.

“We now have around 1,500 disciplinary actions pending, meaning we are paying people who need to be fired, demoted, or suspended without pay for violating our core values”, he said.

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