Just Make Steve Cohen V.A. Secretary And Get It Over With

What, like it’d be the craziest thing President Trump has done?
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Donald Trump has decided to put his personal doctor in the United States Cabinet as secretary for Veterans Affairs. In spite of Dr. Ronny Jackson’s complete lack of any administrative experience (the VA employs about 400,000 people) and questionable command of medicine (he has called a splotchy, rotund, orange geriatric with early-onset dementia the picture of health and mental acuity), this makes a certain amount of sense. After all, if the president’s personal pilot is the perfect man to lead the FAA, why not? Plus, that lack of any management background will make Jackson the perfect guy to just do what the president says, which may well be to privatize America’s entire system for caring for its retired soldiery.

To which we say, why not just cut out the middleman? Steve Cohen is both having a bit of a rough time in convincing people to make him their hedge fund manager of choice once more, and building up a parallel private VA. Making him David Shulkin’s replacement solves the first problem and immeasurably assists on the second, as well. Plus, Cohen would fit in much better with the current Cabinet than some pauper who’s spent his entire career in the Navy.

With an initial investment of $275 million, Cohen founded the Cohen Veterans Network, a private nonprofit mental-health-care network…. While CVN is billed chiefly as a charitable organization, its long-term business plan incorporates various funding streams to cover the majority of its revenue, including money from the VA, Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE…

The worry is that if and when VA funds are used to pay private providers like CVN, efforts to “supplement” care will instead siphon off money from VA budgets, leading to reductions in the agency’s mental-health staff and services….

“They talked about doing research on genetics. The VA is already doing that,” Weidman said. “They talked about creating a national repository of data on these conditions—the VA has done that. They talk about researching risk factors. The VA is doing that. They talk about creating coalitions, which is what the VA is doing.”

Is This Hedge-Fund Titan Greasing the Levers for Privatizing the Veterans Health Administration [The Nation]

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