VA Secretary Shulkin seeks larger role for private health care

Greg Nash

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Monday that he would like to see private sector providers play a larger role in veterans’ health care.

“The direction I’m taking this is to give veterans more choice in their care, and be the decision maker for their care, which I fundamentally believe is a concept that has to be implemented,” Shulkin told The Wall Street Journal.

Introducing private sector providers could take years, the newspaper reported. Shulkin said his ultimate goal is for veterans to not have to rely on the VA to approve or coordinate their care.

Currently, veterans go through a provider at the VA for their health needs.


Opponents to Shulkin’s plan argue that it is a step toward privatization, which would limit funding to government-run facilities.

A spokeswoman for Veterans of Foreign Wars was critical of Shulkin’s plan, telling The Wall Street Journal that the organization has not heard from the secretary about his health-care concept.

Shulkin previously worked as CEO of a private health-care system. Former President Obama named him undersecretary of Veterans Affairs for health and President Trump nominated him as secretary of Veterans Affairs in January.

“We’re trying to not only let veterans increasingly have more choice and decision making,” Shulkin said Monday. “We’re trying to let the VA understand under that system for them to remain strong, they have to be veteran-centric. They have to treat their veterans like customers, and they have to have quality of services and access to services that is equal to or better than the private sector.” 

Tags David Shulkin Healthcare Secretary of Veterans Affairs Veterans Veterans Affairs
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