VA nominee vows transformation of veterans health care



By Jared Serbu

The nominee to lead the Veterans Health Administration told Senate lawmakers Tuesday that he intends to “transform” the country’s largest health care organization, using his private sector experience to help guide the Department of Veterans Affairs beyond the patient access problems that led to long waiting lists and falsified records in Phoenix and elsewhere around the country.

Dr. David Shulkin appeared before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee for confirmation as VA’s undersecretary for health after a long career as a hospital administrator in the private sector and after having trained as a physician in VA hospitals early in his career. He said watching the wait time scandal unfold from the sidelines persuaded him that he could and should rejoin the department to create what he told senators would be a “new VA.”

“The VA needs change,” he said. “It needs more doctors, more nurses and greater efficiency in its systems. It needs to advance its culture of accountability and eliminate those from the system who have lost their commitment to do what’s right for veterans. The time has come to create the VA system of the future, a system that has superior access and the highest standards for quality of care.”

Shulkin would replace Dr. Robert Petzel, who resigned in May as more details of the health care scandal engulfed the agency.

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