“I’ve been telling all of our friends at speeches and rallies for two years about the VA and how we’re going to turn it around, and we are doing that.”
President Trump took another step in his pledge to improve the care of U.S. veterans, signing a bill to preserve and improve veterans’ access to private healthcare if they can’t get timely and convenient access to a VA hospital.
“This bill will extend and improve the choice programs, so that more veterans can see the doctor of their choice. You got it? The doctor of their choice. And don’t have to wait and travel long distances for VA care,” President Trump said.
The person President Trump tasked with changing the structure and culture at the VA is Doctor David Shulkin – a holdover from the Obama Administration.
The task is like turning around an oil tanker, but Dr. Shulkin believes he can get it done.
“I do believe that, working with Congress in a bipartisan way and with the support of our president, that we are going to do that. And you’re going to see some of these long-term problems addressed in the next couple months,” Dr. Shulkin said.
While experts and patients say the VA is improving, there are still enormous institutional problems.
The Obama Administration was reluctant to fire poor performers, but President Trump is holding people accountable, replacing the medical director at the Washington D.C. hospital after a scathing Inspector General report.
“It’s not only removing employees that shouldn’t be working in the VA. But it’s making sure that we can bring in the very best and brightest to recruit into the VA to serve our veterans,” Dr. Shulkin said.
While President Trump had one eye on the VA, the other was on the results of the special election in Georgia’s 6thCongressional District. Democrat Jon Ossoff fell short of the 50 percent needed to win outright, despite spending $8 million – much of which came from outside the state, including big support from Hollywood stars.
The president tweeted: “Despite major outside money, FAKE media support and eleven Republican candidates, BIG “R” win with runoff in Georgia. Glad to be of help!”
Ossoff will now meet with the top Republican vote-getter, Karen Handel, in a runoff on June 20. President trump called to congratulate Handel and tweeted: “Dems failed in Kansas and are now failing in Georgia. Great job Karen Handel! It is now Hollywood vs. Georgia on June 20th.”
If history is a guide, the runoff should heavily favor Handel. But the White House is already spiking the football, insisting that, based on the Democrats’ goals for Tuesday night, they lost.
“I think this was a big loss for them. The bottom line is they went all-in on it. They said their goal was to get over 50 percent. They came up short,” Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.
But not everyone is so quick to proclaim victory. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said he likes Handel’s chances in the runoff, but the very fact that Ossoff got so close to 50 percent should be a wake-up call to the Republican party that it needs to pay more attention to moderate voters.