VA Secretary David Shulkin: Veterans' health system is years behind

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VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, said Monday that while his department has been making strides to improve in recent months, they were still a long way from where they need to be, according to KTVQ.

Congress passed bills this year that helped protect VA whistleblowers, streamline the appeals process for benefits applicants and make it easier for the VA to fire problematic employees. But even with these improvements, Dr. Shulkin believes VA still has much work to do in order to make sure veterans are receiving accessible care.

"A lot of the problems that resulted in the crises that we've seen in the VA did not happen overnight, they happened over decades," Mr. Shulkin said. "It is going to take us a period of several years to get this system to be one that we're all satisfied with."

Mr. Shulkin said that one of his department's biggest priorities is working with Congress on a bill that will restructure the Veterans Choice program, which allows veterans to receive care at non-VA hospitals if travel or wait times for VA hospitals are too long. The program received $2.1 billion in emergency funding earlier this month.

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