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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Ronny Jackson looking for bipartisan support ahead of confirmation hearing

President+Barack+Obama+speaks+with+Dr.+Ronny+Jackson+in+the+Outer+Oval+Office%2C+Feb.+21%2C+2014.+%28Official+White+House+Photo+by+Pete+Souza%29
Photo by Creative Commons

President Barack Obama speaks with Dr. Ronny Jackson in the Outer Oval Office, Feb. 21, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Dr. Ronny Jackson, Texas A&M at Galveston Class of 1991, has been working through a series of private meetings before his confirmation hearing on April 25 to gain bipartisan support for his nomination to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Jackson is a U.S. Navy Rear Admiral and has served as Physician to the President since 2015, working with both Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Trump announced on March 28 via Twitter he was nominating Jackson for VA secretary, launching a wave of criticism against Jackson as Congress decides whether to confirm him. Although Jackson is publically showing his desire to gain bipartisan support, Democrats are not set on his confirmation as they are concerned about his ability to fight a conservative push for privatization of veteran’s care, according to The Washington Post.
According to the Washington post, Jackson is making private pledges to Democratic senators he will not support the privatization efforts according to The Washington Post. David Shulkin, the previous VA secretary, was a clear, public opponent of privatization. He wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on March 28 as he was leaving his position warning privatizing the VA would hurt veterans who need access to health care.
“The private sector, already struggling to provide adequate access to care in many communities, is ill-prepared to handle the number and complexity of patients that would come from closing or downsizing V.A. hospitals and clinics, particularly when it involves the mental health needs of people scarred by the horrors of war,” Shulkin wrote.
Another issue Jackson faces going into his confirmation hearing is the general concern about his lack of management experience. According to USA Today, the VA currently has more than 300,000 employees and 1,200 medical facilities. However, USA Today reports that Jackson remains confident in his ability to lead the agency, pointing to his roles in the military and experience as an emergency medical physician.
“I’ve been confronted on a day-to-day basis with life and death decisions,” Jackson told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “I think I’ve got what it takes, and you know, I don’t buy into that [lack of experience] argument at all.”
In addition to the expansive size of the agency, the VA is currently under heavy fire due to the difficulties many veterans face trying to access their health care, stemming from the 2014 delay-in-care that occurred under Shulkin, according to USA Today. In another USA Today article, Jackson said he sees what soldiers go through in the field and knows that they deserve the care from the VA. Whoever takes office will be walking into a job that requires fixing these problems.
Jackson’s plan to mend both of these issues is to build the VA’s capacity to improve healthcare for veterans. The Washington Post reports that his current plan would avoid steering toward reliance on the private sector.
On April 25, the Senate VA committee will hold a hearing to decide whether Jackson will be confirmed as secretary.

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