Hoeven: Senate Confirms Dr. David Shulkin to Lead U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today issued the following statement after the Senate voted to confirm Dr. David Shulkin to be secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Earlier this month, Hoeven met with Shulkin, who currently serves as the VA’s undersecretary of health, to discuss the senator’s work to improve veterans’ services. Dr. Shulkin accepted Hoeven’s invitation to visit North Dakota and see firsthand the Veterans Care Coordination initiative at the Fargo VA, a pilot project allowing veterans to coordinate their care directly with the VA, rather than a third party contractor.

“Dr. David Shulkin’s background in health care administration and work at the VA provide him with the experience he needs to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Hoeven. “Dr. Shulkin committed to work with me to ensure that veterans in North Dakota and across the nation receive the care they deserve. That includes building on the success of the Fargo VA’s Care Coordination initiative and my legislation to provide veterans with long term care and health care closer to home.” 

Shulkin committed to work with Hoeven to improve care for the nation’s veterans, including:

Providing Health Care, Extended Care Closer to Home

Hoeven’s Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act would allow the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to enter into provider agreements with qualified hospital, medical and extended care providers, which would enable them to accept veteran patients without having to comply with burdensome and oftentimes expensive federal contracting requirements. 

Strengthening Veterans Choice

Hoeven worked with federal and local officials, including veteran service officers and VA administrators, to secure and implement the Veterans Care Coordination initiative to allow veterans seeking care through the Veterans Choice Program to coordinate all of their health care needs through the Fargo VA Medical Center rather than Health Net, a third party contractor headquartered in California. As a result of the initiative, the average time from initial call to a scheduled community appointment decreased from nearly 24 days in April to four and a half days in December, according to an update provided to Hoeven by the Fargo VA. In addition, the new pilot program arranges to have a Health Net staff member at the Fargo VA so providers can work with the Fargo VA to improve provider reimbursements and reduce denials of veterans’ claims. The Veterans Care Coordination initiative grew out of a series of meetings and listening roundtables Hoeven held with veterans around the state in both large and small communities.