WASHINGTON – Following last week’s abrupt dismissal of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin via Twitter, the American Federation of Government Employees has sent letters to Congress opposing privatization efforts already underway.
The letters, signed by AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr., ask Congress to “strengthen your commitment to full funding and staffing of the VA health care system and to oppose the current version of S. 2193 because it allows the next VA secretary to proceed with substantial, if not total, privatization of VA health care.”
In a New York Times editorial column following his ouster, Shulkin wrote that “I am convinced that privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans.” Shulkin went on to say that Capitol Hill insiders with close ties to the faux veterans’ service organization Concerned Veterans for America, “saw me as an obstacle to privatization who had to be removed.”
As part of the series of Tweets announcing Shulkin’s firing, President Trump declared his intention to replace the only unanimous selection of his cabinet with the lesser-known Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson. Jackson, who rose to prominence in January for his effusive report on the President’s health, has offered no information about where he stands on privatization of the VA – something that concerns veterans service organizations and Senators alike.
In Cox’s letter to all 535 members of Congress, he says, “It is clear that the administration wants the VA’s health care system to be privatized. To that end, they want a compliant Secretary and legislation that allows a privatization agenda to move forward with haste. Without serious amendment, S. 2193 would be more than adequate to the task.”
S. 2193, the Caring for our Veterans Act of 2017, sponsored by Sen. Johnny Isakson, “represents a new low in unaccountable contracting” of veterans’ health care according to the letter.
Cox ends the letter by asking Congress to “oppose legislation that allows privatization, provide funding for full staffing, and funding for unmet infrastructure needs and workplace protections for VA employees who are now unable to speak up against mismanagement and waste.”
To read the full letter, please visit www.afge.org/oppose2193