Colorado’s Morning News, Mike Coffman, April 26, 2018

Station:    KOA, 850 am

Guests:    Coffman, Mike


Date:        April 26, 2018

Topics:     Veterans Affairs, Healthcare, Beneifits, Mortuary Services, Secretary of the V.A. Ronny Jackson, Shulkin, Office of Inspector General, Vetting Process, White House, Government Accountability Office, Marine Corps Tough, Private Sector Experience,

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HOST ED GREENE: [00:00:00] Cabinet woes continue for the President, with his pick to head the Veterans Affairs Department now out of the running, White House physician Ronnie Jackson withdrawing his nomination to be the next V.A. Secretary. Congressmen and House VA committee member Mike Coffman joins us live. Good morning, Congressman. [00:00:13][12.7]


GREENE: Last time that you were on with us, I kind of got the impression you were lukewarm on the admiral as the nominee for that position. So, are you somewhat relieved, or what’s your reaction to this?

COFFMAN: No, I’m kind of relieved. I think the White House could do a better vetting process for its nominees. There certainly was an Office of the Inspector General report on — criticizing the admiral’s leadership in 2012. And so, I’m not sure that anybody in the White House read that report. But they certainly should have. And so, unfortunately, this department remains leaderless. And it is not — you know, when you have a department — the second largest in the federal government — without, you know, leadership it’s problematic for the men and women who serve this country in the military. And so my suggestion certainly to the White House is to get somebody who is going to be ‘Marine Corps tough’ in terms of cleaning out the senior management. We’ve got senior leaders in this department that year after year have documented failures. And the prior Secretary did not use that authority — nor did Secretary McDonald — did not use their authority, given to them by the Congress, to expeditiously get rid of these the senior executives in the department, who, again, year after year documented failure to serve our veterans, both by the Government Accountability Office and by the Office of Inspector General for the VA. You [have] got to clean house, or whoever gets in this job is going to fail.

HOST APRIL ZESBAUGH: Do you have a name in mind?

COFFMAN: You know, I don’t. I just — anybody who can be ‘Marine Corps tough’ and clean house. Again, this is very disappointing. And [someone] who is going to be vetted — who is going to be vetted. Somebody, clearly, from outside this organization. I mean, this organization suffers from a culture of bureaucratic incompetence. Dr. Shulkin came from within the organization, and was appointed Secretary from within the organization. I think that was a mistake. This administration needs to find somebody from the outside, preferably with some private sector experience.

GREENE: And it — does it have to be a doctor? I mean, does it have — do you want somebody who’s used to running a large organization? Because even Dr. Jackson didn’t have that skill set, but he was propped up, I think just because – well, just like the President said — he looked like he was out of central casting.

COFFMAN: He certainly did. Well, the VHA — or Veterans Health Administration — is the largest part of the Department of Veterans Affairs. But there’s also two other significant parts. The second largest part is benefits. And the third largest part is mortuary affairs. But certainly, it is dominated by health care. It would be helpful to have somebody with a health care background, and who has served this country in the military, that would understand the culture of veterans and what attracts them to the V.A.. And so I think all those things are important. But I think it’s very important for the administration to get moving on this, and not have this vacuum that’s out there. [00:00:13][0.0]

ZESBAUGH: Yeah, and maybe vet first, and then pick from that vetted list.

COFFMAN: Vet first! Yes!

ZESBAUGH: Congressman Mike Coffman, thanks for the time, as always.

COFFMAN: Oh, thank you!