Arlington, VA — Today Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Shulkin gave a briefing at the White House on the state of the department. Secretary Shulkin discussed problems at the VA ranging from excess facilities, a lack of accountability, excessive bureaucracy, rampant waste, quality of care concerns, and a lack of health care choice for veterans.
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Policy Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:
“There’s a lot of work left to do, but we commend Secretary Shulkin for the steps he has taken to fix the VA. Unlike his predecessor, who denied problems existed, Shulkin is honest about the challenges the VA faces and direct about the solutions needed to fix them. Already, Secretary Shulkin has called for Congress to pass strong accountability legislation and has proposed common-sense measures that will make the department more efficient, like shutting down empty or under-utilized facilities. Shulkin has acknowledged the need to give veterans even more choice over their health care and has given groups like ours a seat at the table to help come up with ideas for how to achieve that. Secretary Shulkin is working to move the VA in a better direction, but the problems will not be solved until Congress takes action. They should also remember that the VA’s problems are not due to a lack of resources.”
CVA is urging Congress to pass the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, which will be voted on by the Senate next week. The bill passed the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC) with bipartisan support last week. It is supported by every major veterans organization, as well as Secretary Shulkin himself, who has repeatedly outlined the need for him to be given the authority to fire bad employees quickly.
The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act will reduce the time it takes to fire bad employees at the VA, give Secretary Shulkin the ability to recoup bonuses awarded to employees who are found to have engaged in misconduct, and reduce the pensions of VA employees found guilty of felonies related to their employment at the VA. The bill ensures that VA employees who are terminated will not remain on the VA payroll while appealing their terminations. The bill will also increase protections for whistleblowers to help ensure that they are not retaliated against for speaking up about wrongdoings at the department.