A lot of changes are happening under newly elected U.S. President Donald Trump. Apart from the ones commonly gracing daily broadcasts and front pages, one of the most significant concerns is veteran’s affairs (VA). Health insurance is still out of reach for millions of Americans, despite the existence of enrollment data audits and the like. Most of the audits are intended to streamline processing further and give more people opportunities to be eligible for insurance and other healthcare services.
A study from last year predicted that over 600,000 veterans would be without health insurance this year due to 19 states holding out against expanding Medicaid. Researchers from the Urban Institute (with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) further claim that roughly 327,000 of these individuals live in 19 states whose Republican governors seem not to be fond of the changes. This year, no official statistics indicating a significant shift was released.
There are, however, notable changes early on in the current administration. Many veterans, for instance, favored Trump over Hillary Clinton (with a significant 2:1 margin), as evidenced by the elections. But Trump’s decision to freeze federal hiring (one of his campaign promises) might change the state of things within the VA system. According to health policy researcher Carrie Farmer of the RAND Corporation, the freeze only aggravates the current problems.
Trump’s freeze included numerous open positions in the VA system. What this means is that nurses and doctors may not be able to get on board, thereby limiting healthcare options for those primarily dependent on its services. The administration defends this decision by stressing that the department is due for a workforce overhaul, in light of the allegedly less-than-satisfactory services and long waiting times.
Trump’s tapping of Dr. David Shulkin, a notable Obama official, as his Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs might effect additional changes. Both Shulkin and Trump fondly cite each other’s supposed commitment to improving VA affairs, especially the reduction or complete abolition of the red tape that they say has been plaguing the office for years.
Perhaps the new administration’s decisions will significantly improve VA processes. The only thing that citizens can do now is to wait.