VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD joins Robert Traynham to discuss improvements underway for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Improving transparency, customer service and continuity for veterans is a top priority along with improving wait times for health care and VA employee accountability. This discussion continues in part 2 of VA Transparency and Priorities.
Robert Traynham: The US Department of Veteran's Affairs provides healthcare services, education programs, and vocational rehabilitation employment services to more than nine million veterans each year. Hello, everyone, and welcome to Comcast Newsmakers, I'm Robert Traynham. Dr. David Shulkin, the United States Secretary of Veteran's Affairs, joins me to discuss some top priorities in all the agencies today. Secretary Shulkin, welcome to the program.
David Shulkin: Thank you, glad to be here.
Robert Traynham: Let's talk about the elephant in the room, and that really is the wait times that many veterans are experiencing across [00:00:30] the country.
David Shulkin: The first thing that we've done is we focused on those veterans who have clinically urgent problems, to make sure that those who can't afford to wait for care are getting care at the right time. We've established same day services across every one of our major VA medical centers for primary care and mental health, so people can get access on the day that we need it. The second thing that we've done is, we've made sure that we're making more appointments available, both in the VA, but also out in the community. [00:01:00] Now if people are waiting for care, we're getting them out to the private sector. The final thing that we've done is, we've published our wait times for everybody to see. They can see where the wait times are good and where they still need to be improved. We're the only health system in the country who has done that.
Robert Traynham: Why do you think, Mr. Secretary, it's taken your action, your leadership, your vision to be implemented for this stuff actually to materialize I guess what my question really is, is how did we get here How did we get into this situation
David Shulkin: I think, unfortunately, [00:01:30] we've learned the lesson time and time again that when we send our young men and women off to war or conflict, that we don't do an adequate job of planning for their needs when they come back home. We're always playing a little bit of catch up. I think were now really beginning to understand that the day that we commit these men and women to going off to defend their country, we have to be prepared to commit to them for life, and to make sure that we prepare for their needs when we come [00:02:00] back home.
Robert Traynham: I want to transition to the staff. I'm not sure how many tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people that work in your department, but it appears that there was a little bit of, I don't know what the right word would be, not laziness, but lack of accountability on many different levels. How have you addressed this issue
David Shulkin: First of all, the vast majority of the men and women who serve in the VA are dedicated patriotic individuals who are doing it for the right reason, because they believe in the mission of caring for veterans. [00:02:30] In any organization, you have some that have lost their way, that don't share that commitment. The VA had been slow in making sure that those individuals were accountable, were identified and actually asked to leave the VA. We've really begun to tackle that, and we now have a new law, the Accountability Law, that allows me as Secretary to be able to remove people from their jobs if they've really deviated from accepted professional behaviors.
As part of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, the Small Business Administration is studying how the practice of Multiple Award Contracts impacts the ability of women-owned and other socio-economic categories of small businesses to compete for government work. Jane Campbell, President of Women Impacting Public Policy discusses the SBA study, which is in response to a WIPP report regarding women owned businesses and government contracts.
The United States Census Bureau provides data about the nation’s people and economy. While that data is used by our government for planning and redistricting purposes, there are private sector applications as well – especially for businesses. DeVere Kutscher, Principal with Public Private Strategies discusses the importance of census accuracy and its effect on businesses making informed decisions.
In September 2017, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rolled back guidance under Title IX regarding standards for colleges to prevent, respond to and investigate incidents of sexual assault on campus. The Department of Education has issued interim guidance, pending a public notice and comment period. Jenn Brown, of The United State of Women, discusses the roll back and encourages public awareness of the upcoming notice and comment period to assure that all voices are heard.
Latino youth lag behind in STEM education, while Hispanics are at the fastest rate growing mobile technology users. A discussion with Amy Hinojosa, President and CEO of MANA, a national Latino Organization on efforts to bridge the STEM gap with young Latinas through programs that teach web design and coding using the tools that students are familiar with - mobile phones.
On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – the first comprehensive tax reform passed since 1986, under President Reagan. While charitable deductions have been preserved, some non-profit organizations are concerned about a potential drop-off in donations next year. An interview with Steve Taylor, Senior Vice President for Policy at United Way Worldwide.
There is a current trend toward incivility dominating public discourse in the United States. A grassroots campaign is working to reverse that trend, encouraging civility to improve collaboration, compromise and productivity in legislative bodies. Jody Thomas, Executive Director of the National Foundation for Women Legislators discusses efforts by NFWL and partnering organizations to encourage civil discourse for elected officials.
And the Winner is.... Tracy's Kids! Comcast Newsmakers highlights this 10th annual event for Tracy's Kids, an organization devoted to helping young cancer patients and their families to cope with illness through art therapy. For more information, visit Tracy's Kids at www.TracysKids.org.
With commentary from: David Cohen, Jeff Miller, Matt Gerson, Dr. Aziza Shad, Tracy Councill, Ryan Tomoff, Rebecca Wilson, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Lisa Wilson, Devon Still, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Rep. Tom Marino, Sen. Rob Portman.
Elena Russo speaks with Brandon Jones, Chief Executive Officer, Hospice of Charles County, about the care they provide and the options that are available for seniors and their families. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.
For more videos and information about your community, go to ComcastNewsmakers.com.
Recorded on: 11/17/2016.
The institutionalization of children with disabilities is a worldwide problem augmented by reported abuse of children in over 25 countries. Eric Rosenthal of Disability Rights International discusses the issues and efforts toward improvement. Visit Disability Rights International on the web at www.DisabilityRightsIntl.org
According to an internal audit, more than 57,000 veterans have not been scheduled for an initial appointment with the US Department of Veteran Affairs. Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ) discusses this delay in healthcare access for our returning servicemen and women. Visit Rep. Runyan on the web at www.Runyan.house.gov