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Agent Orange-related health care for Vietnam vets should be expanded, VA boss says Shulkin

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin testifies for veterans ‘ programs before the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs on Capitol Hill.

(Associated Press)

More Vietnam War veterans who developed illnesses after exposure to Agent Orange deserve health care, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin told a Senate panel this week-but the high cost of the medical science and politics stand in the way.

Shulkin told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, that last year he suggested to the White House the budget of the civil servants that they are, bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, Parkinson-like tremors and high blood pressure in a list of 14 diseases that is believed to be caused by exposure to Agent Orange during the war, the Tuscaloosa News reported.

“I passed it on to my recommendations to the (White House) Office of Management and Budget. I did that by Nov. 1st,” Shulkin said. “And we are in the process now of going through this data. In fact, we have the OMB (officials) on Monday. They asked for some additional information to be able to work through the process and be able to make the financial estimates for this. So, we are committed to working with OMB to get this resolved in the very near future.”

The government earlier extended coverage in June 2015 for the War in Vietnam vets affected by Agent Orange, which accounts for one in six disability checks issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, left, speaks with the Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Veterans Affairs Jon Rychalski during a hearing on the budgets for veterans programs, before the senate committee on Veterans Affairs on Capitol Hill.

(Associated Press)

At that time, the costs for the coverage of the Agent Orange-related diseases was estimated at $47.5 million over 10 years.

Shulkin also told the commission his views on the Blue Water Navy veterans of the War in Vietnam is not eligible for treatment, despite suffering from a disease at the VA provisional list.

“I am aligned with you that these veterans have waited too long,” Shulkin said, “and this is a responsibility that this country has. And, as our veterans grow older, it is so unfair. … I think that it is absolutely necessary for us to resolve this issue.”

“I am aligned with you that these veterans have waited too long, and this is a responsibility that this country has. And, as our veterans grow older, it is so unfair. … I think that it is absolutely necessary for us to resolve this issue.”

– VA-Secretary David Shulkin

Previous efforts to include Blue Water Navy Veterans at the VA provisional list are not of the ground. The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (HR 299) was introduced last year by Rep. David Valado, R-Ga. In spite of 327 co-sponsors of the bill is not yet passed.

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VA Secretary David Shulkin faces heavy criticism

Shulkin is under the microscope in recent weeks, leading to speculation that the President, Donald Trump would replace him with Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Last month, Shulkin was found by the Department of Veterans Affairs to have abused finances for a trip to Europe, and to being accepted tickets to tennis matches at Wimbledon.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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