By ISAAC ARNSDORF
August 3, 2018
The story of the Cohen Network illustrates what could lie in store for veterans as Trump pursues his campaign pledge to place their care in the hands of the private sector.
The network’s original clinic, at New York University, got into a spat over who would own the patent rights from research that Cohen funded. And shortly after the hearing, Cohen mounted an aggressive lobbying campaign to get the government to subsidize the clinics.
|Steven Cohen on the trading floor at Point72 Asset |
Management in 2016.
But at that same moment, across the country, the Cohen Network was closing its clinic in Los Angeles less than a year after it opened. The Cohen Network’s leaders had alienated the staff there, former employees said, by telling them to prioritize healthier patients over homeless veterans. The shutdown was so hasty that former therapists said it left some patients in the lurch.
This article is a collaboration between Fortune and ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative news organization.
At a House hearing last year on post-traumatic stress disorder, a private organization showed up with an ambitious plan to help suffering veterans. The Cohen Veterans Network was opening a chain of free mental health clinics across the country, backed by $275 million from hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen.
By contrast to the high-profile scandals at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Cohen Network claimed 96% client satisfaction. In a statement for the hearing, the organization said its clinics “provide a desirable alternative” to the VA—a clear echo of President Trump’s campaign promise to let veterans skip the VA for “a private service provider of their own choice.”
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