By: Leah Howard
Veterans make up almost one third of all federal workers, equivalent to approximately 623,000 people. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said of the V.A., “If you look at the problems that have plagued people, hiring more people isn’t the answer.” This directly affects Veterans Health. There was much confusion amongst the administration of the V.A. as to whether or not they were allowed to hire more doctors and nurses, especially due to the recent influx of veterans in need of services and shortage of providers. Although there have been recent improvements in efficiency of health services, more than 300,000 veterans a month are still waiting for an appointment.
Issues in Veterans Health spawn farther than the hiring freeze. Carrie Farmer, a health policy researcher, stated that 3 million veterans enrolled in the VA receive their healthcare from other places, including from their employer or Affordable Care Act exchanges. If these options are not available, the number of Veterans who switch to VA healthcare will increase, further complicating the ability for the VA to provide quality accessible care especially with a recent surge in the historically taxed system. On Tuesday February 13th, Dr. David Shulkin was sworn in as Secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department in a 100-0 vote. At his confirmation hearing in January, Shulkin claimed that he is in favor of filling about 37,000 of the vacant positions, especially for the needs of doctors and nurses.