Questions remain about how the newly nominated Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Dr. David Shulkin, would transform the VA if he were to be confirmed as expected. However, the choice indicates a more moderate approach to reforming the beleaguered agency compared to other potential picks who may have favored more drastic measures – such as complete privatization.
Shulkin, an Obama-appointed Under Secretary of Health for the Department of Veterans Affairs, expressed his perspective on the best way forward for the VA in a March 2016 piece in the New England Journal of Medicine, in which he advocated to change the current system into a three-pronged network of both public and private service providers. The first would be comprised of VA run hospitals and centers along with other federal agencies and public institutions; the second would be organized private sector delivery systems; and the third would be providing the option for veterans to seek care directly with private providers. “He knows the V.A. but he is not of the V.A.,” said Phillip Carter, an Iraq veteran with the Center for New American Security in an interview with New York Times’ Dave Phillips. “…He comes from the private sector and knows how to blend private and public care.”
It is still unknown how or if these and other previously proposed changes (such as those outlined in the June 2016 Commission-on-Care report) will be implemented to address the goals set forth in Trumps 10-point plan to reform the VA (include link). A major goal of VA reform is to reduce delay in processing claims.