Veterinarians across the country are expressing their concerns that Donald Trump is poised to nominate an untested medical doctor to fill a critical position at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The vet clinic industry, which relies on federal funding for services like vaccinations and surgical procedures, is already dealing with a backlog of appointments that have been left unprocessed, and the White House is likely to choose someone with strong ties to pharmaceutical industry interests as the department’s new chief veterinarian.
The veterinary clinic industry has a long history of taking principled stands in defense of animal rights, including during the anti-slavery movement.
But there’s growing concern about how the Trump administration could roll back animal welfare laws.
The president has been critical of veterinary medicine in recent years, particularly the industry’s support of the anti-[viral] vaccines that have led to a surge in the number of Americans with chronic illnesses.
He has threatened to withhold federal funding from clinics that refuse to vaccinate their animals, and he has said he wants to see the VA eliminated.
But in a tweet Thursday, Dr. Stephen Klineberg, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, warned of the potential of the president’s plans for the VA.
“While this administration has pledged to protect vets and our nation’s veterinary healthcare system, they have also taken steps to undermine and undermine the very foundation of our veterinary system,” he said.
Veterinarians have long opposed the Trumpcare law, which they say restricts access to lifesaving veterinary procedures.
That includes a ban on the use of veterinary antibiotics and a provision that prevents the VA from using money to pay for the veterinary diagnostic tests that vets are required to get.
The law also requires the VA to provide only “essential health services” like vaccinations.
Dr. Klineburg said the law has hurt vets and their ability to treat patients and to be productive members of society.
“It has really devastated vets,” he told Politico.
“It has put a lot of vets out of work, and it has done nothing to advance veterinary medicine and the ability to do good, or protect our veterans from harm.”
Veterinologists are also facing the prospect of being cut off from federal funding in the face of the administration’s plans.
Veterinary surgeons at the Mesa veterinary medical clinic in El Paso, Texas, have been sending letters to their members saying they are concerned about the nomination of Dr. Mark Greenfield to the position of deputy secretary of veterans affairs.
The letter from the veterinary surgeons states that Greenfield’s confirmation hearings have been delayed and that they would not have to pay his nomination fee had he been confirmed by the Senate.
The Mesa vet clinic has been a major hub for veterinary medicine for more than a century, and Dr. Klinberg said his organization has been trying to influence the administration to change the bill’s protections for vets.
The vets’ letter cites Greenfield as an example of the kind of person the president is trying to pick to head the VA, noting that he was a partner in a private practice before he joined the VA as a veterinary surgeon in 2009.
Greenfield said he did not attend any of the hearings, and has since left the department.
The group also points to a 2016 report in The New York Times that found that the VA has been using taxpayer money to reimburse some vets for unnecessary surgeries that are not covered by the agency’s annual operating budget.
That practice is known as “surgeries for profit.”
The vets are asking that the administration withdraw Greenfield from consideration and that the bill be changed so that vets who cannot afford to go to a vet, such as a parent with a medical condition, can continue to get their veterinary medical services.
Klozman and Klineberg are members of the association’s board of directors, and are both Democrats.
Veterins have been a key player in the opposition to Trumpcare.
The veterinary medical association, along with other veterinary health and animal advocacy groups, has pushed for years for the repeal of the law, and on Thursday, the group’s president and CEO, Drs.
Jeffrey Klinenberg and John Klineberger, issued a joint statement urging the administration not to nominate Greenfield.
“Veterinology is a profession that prides itself on caring for animals and helping people in need,” they said.
“We strongly support the president, but he cannot nominate someone who will put our profession and its members in jeopardy.”
The group is also urging Congress to pass a law to allow vets to continue receiving their vet-related benefits under the Veterans Health Administration, which is part of the Department in charge of veterans’ medical care.
The Veterans Health Insurance Program is a separate program for vets that is managed by the Department.
The Trump administration has been silent on the issue of vet-focused lobbying efforts since Trump took office.
A spokesperson for the White Houses office of legislative affairs did not respond to a request for comment.