President-elect Donald Trump met with health care executives on Wednesday to begin a serious reform of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I’ve been saying we have to take care of our vets,” Trump told reporters at Mar-a-Lago after the meetings. “We are working on something to make it great for our veterans, because they are treated very, very unfairly.”
Trump met with John Noseworthy, the President and CEO of Mayo Clinic, Paul Rothman, the CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine as well as Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, Dr. David Torchiana of Partners HealthCare and Toby Cosgrove of Cleveland Clinic, according to the press pool. He also met with Marc Sherman of restructuring firm Alvarez & Marsal.
According to a Trump transition official speaking to the press, the president-elect wanted to know more about giving more options to veterans and allowing them to go to any hospital of their choice.
But he acknowledged that some veterans liked their current care through the VA.
“We think we have to have kind of a… public-private option, because some vets love the VA,” he said.
When asked further about a public-private option, the official confirmed that it was “definitely an option on the table to have a system where potentially vets can choose either or, or all private.”
Trump signaled that his priority was to eliminate the long wait times at the VA.
“I don’t want to veterans waiting in line for weeks,” he told reporters. “And you know in many cases they have a minor illness and it takes so long that it turns out to be a major illness and beyond that.”
Trump also discussed creating an advisory board to help him navigate a serious reform the scandal-plagued bureaucracy, according to the official.
“These are people that know what they’re talking about,” the official said, describing a “good meeting” with the health care executives.
The official was careful to clarify that no decisions had been made, despite a substantial meeting.
“We didn’t formalize anything,” he said. “Right now, it’s a conversation about how to fix the problem, but this would also be a group that could make up an advisory council as well.”