Veterans Groups and Advocates Sound the Alarm and Demand that Rear Adm. Jackson State Publicly that the Trump Administration Will Not Seek to Privatize the VA and Work to Dismantle Healthcare for Veterans and Families
Contact: Aaron Hughes, firstname.lastname@example.org, Right to Heal
Scott Vogel, email@example.com
(March 30, 2018, Chicago) – President Donald Trump just fired VA Secretary David Shulkin and replaced him with Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson as head of the VA.
This move is worrisome for advocates working to protect healthcare for veterans. The Right to Heal coalition call upon Admiral Jackson to state publicly and forcefully that veterans’ healthcare and vital services will not be privatized, cut, or that parts of the VA be dismantled. Veterans’ healthcare is not a profit margin.
Of major concern is that Adm. Jackson appears to have zero management or leadership experience running a complex agency like the VA. The agency has a $200 billion budget that cares for over 9 million veterans, and tasked with running 170 medical centers and 1,061 outpatient clinics.
In response, the Right to Heal coalition, SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana, About Face: VAW, and AFGE 789 issues the following joint statement:
“The Trump Administration, VA Administration, and Congress must expand access to the VA Healthcare and insure the VA Healthcare is fully staffed, absolutely not privatize the VA so that medical institutions and pharmaceuticals industry can profit off our care and the care of our fellow veterans.
“President Trump’s abrupt dismissal of Secretary Shulkin demonstrates how little the President cares for veterans’ healthcare and services. President Trump’s choice of Rear Adm. Jackson, essentially Trump’s personal doctor who gave him a clean bill of health, to lead one of the largest organizations in the country and whose sacred duty is to provide care for our nation’s veterans is utterly cynical. This decision makes a mockery of the vital role that VA plays in the lives of our fellow veterans.
“Right now, there are urgent issues and crises in the VA that demand focus and attention. “There are over 49,000 job vacancies nationwide across the VA but the President has effectively done nothing to show leadership or demand fully and safe staffing ratios this critical agency that cares for our nation’s veterans.
“This agenda to short-staff the VA is an attempt to justify privatizing veterans’ healthcare and turn the system over to private health insurers and profit-driven hospitals who don’t understand nor can effectively provide the specialized care and services that veterans require.
Additionally, many veterans still do not have access to the VA because of their disability rating or discharge status.
“We agree with Secretary Shulkin’s op-ed in the New York Times after he was fired that: ‘Privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans.’
“The truth is that the VA is the model for what healthcare should look like in this country. The VA is a single payer healthcare model that works and works well. Despite constant attacks by those that want to privatize the VA, and persistently underfunded by Congress, the VA has done as well or out-performed the private sector with less money.
“In a 2016 report from the Congress created Commission on Care found that veterans who are treated at VHA receive coordinated care, whereas those with private plans receive care that is ‘lower quality, threatens patient safety, and shifts cost among payers.’ (1)
”The VA provides quality and specialized healthcare to millions of veterans and their families which means families don’t have to go bankrupt to afford essential healthcare. It is because the VA is a true not-for-profit healthcare system that conservatives and corporate opportunists, like the Koch Brothers, continue to attack it. This system works for the benefit of veterans and families without generating massive corporate profits.
“With this new shakeup, our Right to Heal VA Campaign demands that Rear Adm. Jackson and President Trump state unequivocally that the Administration will not pursue an agenda to privatize the VA in anyway shape or form. It is essential that President Trump and his administration keeps its word and honors the service of our fellow veterans by protecting the VA.”
1. Gorden, Suzanne. The Battle for Veterans’ Healthcare. Cornell Publishing, 2017. pg56.
This week, Personal Assistants for people with disabilities held press conferences and actions in Carbondale, Rockford, Peoria, Chicago, Springfield, and Champaign to denounce Governor Rauner’s plan to appeal the Court’s decision regarding our 48-cent raises.
On March 13, a Cook County Judge sided with our union, ruling that Governor Rauner broke the law by refusing to release our 48-cent raises and our back pay that’s owed since August 5, 2017. The Judge ordered that Rauner pay it out by March 21, 2018. Unfortunately, the Rauner administration asked the Judge to stay the Court’s ruling pending appeal – meaning our back pay and the implementation of our raises will be delayed again.
While we are ready to keep up the fight in court, PAs are also committed to keeping the pressure on in our communities. Check out photos and media coverage from the powerful events that took place this week below!
KFVS-TV and WSIU Public Radio covered the Carbondale press conference. Click here for the WSIU story.
WEEK-TV covered the press conference in Peoria, click here to view that coverage.
My name is Coston Plummer and I am honored to speak today.
I am a home care worker that supports my brother through the DORS program who suffers from cerebral palsy.
I also care for my Mom through the Community Care Program who became wheelchair bound after battling cancer and overcoming two major surgeries.
Like my fellow home care workers across the state, I too earn a poverty wage.
Just two weeks ago, I went to the grocery store to buy some food and household items.
But the bill was over what I had, and so I had to walk and put some items back on the shelf. You can imagine what that feels like.
I remember thinking to myself, “This sure doesn’t seem fair.”
And you know, it’s not fair.
I would like to give an economics lesson to those who think low-wage workers like myself should pay the same income tax rate as billionaires, like Gov. Bruce Rauner.
How does that possibly make any sense?
Because Illinois has a flat income tax, it means there is no ability to invest in our home care program, nor to give workers like myself a decent wage that we desperately need.
Being a home care worker in Illinois is a sacrifice. It is some of the most demanding and mentally exhausting work a person can do.
But it feels like Gov. Bruce Rauner and state lawmakers who oppose the Fair Tax don’t respect us.
They act like we don’t do “real work.”
The Fair Tax can be – and must be – the ultimate “win – win” for Illinois.
The Fair Tax is an opportunity to protect vital programs like home care from being cut – and actually invest in our workforce and grow our local economy.
The fair tax is absolutely clear and simple: it says that those who earn more income, should contribute more to our state.
All we are asking for is a little respect, and a whole lot of fairness!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 23, 2018
Pritzker Will be the Progressive Leader Working Families Need in Springfield
CHICAGO – The SEIU Illinois State Council is proud to endorse J.B. Pritzker for Illinois governor.
“The janitors, health care and home care workers, security officers, social service workers, adjunct faculty, doorstaff and more of SEIU know J.B. Pritzker will be the leader working families need in Springfield,” said SEIU Illinois State Council Vice President Greg Kelley. “From his pledge to raising the Illinois minimum wage to $15 to his strong support for expanding affordable healthcare and child care, J.B. has demonstrated his commitment to stand up for our state’s working families.”
“By every single metric, Bruce Rauner is a complete disaster for working people,” said SEIU Illinois State Council President Tom Balanoff. “Stagnant wages, tepid economic growth, ballooning debt, attacks on working people and a steadfast refusal to do the basics of his job are just a few examples of his failed record and leadership.”
“Illinois working families deserve better than a right-wing ideologue like Bruce Rauner. The working people of the labor movement, including 150,000 SEIU members, are ready to defeat Bruce Rauner in November.”
The SEIU Illinois State Council represents more than 150,000 working people, including home care and child care providers, security officers, janitors, as well as public employees, medical professionals, first responders and social service workers. SEIU members are winning better wages, health care, and more secure jobs, while ensuring that working people, not just the wealthy and well-connected, benefit from today’s economy.
Last week, we reported that a Cook County Judge sided with us, ruling that Gov. Rauner broke the law by refusing to release our 48-cent raises and our back pay that’s owed since August 5, 2017. The judge ordered that Rauner pay it out by today, March 21.
Unfortunately, Rauner has no interest in doing the right thing or following the law, so he is appealing the Judge’s decision. The Rauner administration has also asked the Judge to stay the Court’s ruling pending appeal, and the Judge has granted a temporary stay while the Court considers the request. This means our back pay and the implementation of our raises will be delayed again.
The first hearing on Rauner’s request to stay the decision pending appeal is scheduled for April 16 and we are ready to fight to ensure that our rights are protected! These raises belong to us and we are going to make sure we get every penny that we are owed.
CHICAGO–The following statement was released by SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Gregory Kelley regarding the Primary Election night victory of Brandon Johnson to represent the Democratic Party in the November race for 1st District Cook County Commissioner:
“We are happy that the residents of Cook County’s 1st district will be represented by Brandon Johnson on the Democratic ticket this November for the Board of Commissioners. His victory is a rejection of austerity politics and a vote for expanded services and good union jobs.
“Brandon Johnson is a proven champion of working families because he is one of us–from his time as a social studies teacher to his active role in fighting to keep schools open in black and brown neighborhoods. We endorsed Brandon Johnson because the 1st district needs someone who has a track record of fighting for better schools, jobs, and healthcare while still making it to his children’s little league practice on time.
“We believe that Brandon Johnson is the best choice for the Cook County’s 1st District Commissioner because he will represent the people, not corporate lobbyists or the 1 percent. SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri Kansas is excited to work with Brandon through November and to have him as our Cook County Commissioner in the 1st district.”
CHICAGO–The following statement was released by SEIU Healthcare Illinois Executive Vice President Faith Arnold regarding the Primary Election Night victory of Lamont Robinson Jr. as the Democratic Party’s nominee for state representative of Chicago’s 5th House District:
“Voters in the 5th Illinois House district today spoke loudly and clearly against ‘bought and sold leadership’ by selecting Lamont Robinson Jr. to represent the Democratic Party in the upcoming November general election.
“Their voice was a sound rejection of former State Representative Ken Dunkin who turned his back on home child care workers in 2016 when they needed him to protect them from attacks on child care services by Gov. Rauner. He thought he could sneak back in, but voters saw through his antics.
“In Robinson, the district has an entrepreneur who believes that investing in the community is how you build the community. He is a small business owner who pays his entry-level workers $15 an hour. That’s leading by example.
“In addition to owning a business, Robinson is a college lecturer and son of a school teacher who connects the value of education and putting that education to good use to develop businesses and jobs. He will work hard in Springfield to make sure that every community has well-funded public schools.
“Robinson will also make sure our state’s most vulnerable have a voice in Springfield. He will be an advocate for funding for home healthcare workers and their consumers. He will stand to protect children from attacks on child care services. And he will look after our safety net hospitals that are vital for low income neighborhoods.
“SEIU Healthcare Illinois members endorsed Robinson because he represents high values for his community.”