Potential Veterans Affairs Pick Supported Obamacare

Vice Chairperson Delos Cosgrove of Commission on Care testifies during a hearing before the House Veterans Affairs Committee September 7, 2016 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on From Tumult to Transformation: The Commission on Care and the Future of the VA Healthcare System. (Photo …
Alex Wong/Getty Images

A physician who met with President-elect Donald Trump and is under consideration to head the Department of Veterans Affairs has been a supporter of Obamacare.

Dr. Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, met with Trump at the president-elect’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida prior to Christmas, reports Bloomberg.

Cosgrove, a Vietnam veteran and a heart surgeon, has been a supporter of Obamacare. His multibillion-dollar clinic system, in fact, was visited and cited by President Barack Obama in 2009 as one that should be a model for the nation.

Obama even considered Cosgrove for the post of Veterans Affairs secretary in 2014 following the termination of Eric Shinseki after multiple VA scandals. The Cleveland Clinic CEO withdrew his name from consideration, however, citing his responsibilities to his own clinic system.

At a National Press Club luncheon in 2012, Cosgrove said Obamacare was achieving access to health insurance to another 32 million people – “a major step forward.” He also praised the launch of the “electronic medical record” under Obamacare, which began “to make your data available to you across the entire organization.”

During an interview on CBS This Morning in July of 2016, Cosgrove said it is not likely Obamacare would be totally repealed if Trump were elected president since Obama’s healthcare reform comes close to Trump’s stated goal to “take care of everybody.”

Cosgrove, who has been serving as a member of Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, referred to an interview with CBS’ Scott Pelley in September of 2015, during which Trump said that while he would repeal and replace Obamacare if elected president, “everybody’s got to be covered.”

“I am going to take care of everybody,” Trump continued. “I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”

When asked who would pay for “everybody” to have health care, Trump responded, “The government’s gonna pay for it.”

Cosgrove said that, with Obamacare, “What we see is access. We got now 20 million more people covered.”

He added that quality of care metrics under Obamacare have been gradually improving, though the reform’s goal of lowering costs had not yet been achieved.

Cosgrove said:

I think the big question really… is about affordability. Have we been able to reduce the inflation of health care? Now it’s come down since 2010, we’ve seen a continual downward trend, it reached a low last year of 2.6 percent, but it’s headed up this year to about 5 percent and I think that’s probably because more people are covered, more people are older and there’s more things we can do for people.

As CBS reports, Cosgrove’s clinic has been able to cut the costs of care by $600 million over the last three years through waste reduction and greater efficiency.

“I mean one of the things, for example, is we are having what we call shared medical practices,” he continued, “and that’s when say, 12 people with diabetes all get together and they get their instructions at the same time… It’s like group therapy – it helps them understand their disease better and it’s very efficient for the doctor.”

However, in September, Cosgrove told CNBC’s Squawk Box that, since Obamacare passed, the number of healthcare regulations has reached record highs, causing healthcare providers to “drown in seas of paperwork.”

“The number of quality metrics that we have to report to the government every year is just going up like crazy,” he said. “We’re now reporting well over 100 quality metrics on a regular basis.”

He added that as the healthcare regulation industry has expanded, small doctors’ practices have been unable to keep up, forcing them to be consumed by larger accountable care organizations.

“We think we have to have kind of a… public-private option, because some vets love the VA,” a Trump transition team official said about the meeting with Cosgrove and other potential nominees for the VA position. The official confirmed that a public-private option was “definitely an option on the table to have a system where potentially vets can choose either or, or all private.”


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