Trump transition team says he’s considering a dramatic overhaul of the VA

Donald Trump speaks briefly to reporters between meetings at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla. (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
Donald Trump speaks briefly to reporters between meetings at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President-elect Donald Trump is considering creating a “public/private option” for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a senior official on his presidential transition team.

The official briefly spoke with reporters on Wednesday and said Trump had had a meeting earlier in the day about reforming the agency, which is responsible for providing health care to American veterans.

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“We think we have to have kind of a … public/private option, because some vets love the VA. … Some vets want to go to the VA,” the official said.

“So the idea is to come up with a solution that solves the problem. And it’s not the easiest thing in the world because you’ve got all these little kingdoms out there, which is hard. You know, in the federal government it’s hard to break things up and start over. So those are the types of things that people are talking about,” the person added.

Trump regularly discussed his desire to improve the VA during his presidential campaign. The official said Trump’s meeting on Wednesday was with five people: Dr. Delos Cosgrove, president and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic; Dr. John Noseworthy, president and CEO of the Mayo Clinic; Dr. David Torchiana, president and CEO of Partners HealthCare; Dr. Paul Rothman, dean and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine; and financial consultant Marc B. Sherman.

“Part the meeting too was: Do we set up an advisory committee as well with some of these pioneers as part of the committee to help us navigate through what’s a very complicated process, providing health care to veterans. These are people that know what they’re talking about,” said the transition team official.


The official said the five men who met with Trump on Wednesday could be “a group that could make up an advisory council.” However, the official noted they “have not formalized anything” The person described the public/private option as “one of the options on the table.”

“Definitely an option on the table to have a system where potentially vets can choose either or, or all private, or keep it,” said the official. “It’s definitely on the table.”

Trump also met with former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson on Wednesday. The president-elect told Yahoo News that he and Thompson discussed “very important things, … including the veterans.”