It’s been a tumultuous week for the Department of Veterans Affairs, after a scathing inspector general report surfaced detailing abuses and errors in VA Secretary David Shulkin’s 10-day trip to Europe last summer. But the fall-out from the investigation hints at a power struggle over the department and its priorities.
The 2014 scandal involving the Phoenix Veterans Health Administration infuriated the nation, but produced at least one positive effect. As more details emerge about the systemic ways waiting times were manipulated for big executive bonuses, Americans agree that radical reform is needed throughout the VHA. According to a Gallup poll conducted in June 2014, 87% of Americans thought that reform of veteran’s health care was extremely or very important. Of course, how to reform the VHA remains up for extensive debate. Following the resignation Of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, Bob McDonald took the helm and implemented several changes. After replacing Shinseki, McDonald immediately increased pay for VA physicians, put 1,000 employees on administrative leave for cheating the system, and hired thousands of new health-care workers into the VHA. The 2014 Veterans Access Choice and Accountability Act was also passed in order to temporarily alleviate waiting times for some eligible veterans.