Fired VA Secretary Shulkin Slams Privatization Efforts

Shulkin had continued to insist he had the full confidence of the White House amid continuing investigations over his travel and leadership of the department.

In June, Mr. Trump signed into law the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, giving the department the ability to fire inept employees and protect those who uncover wrongdoing. Fast. The conflict was simple: Shulkin, the only hold-over in Trump's cabinet from the Obama administration, was trying to maintain the VA as a viable system of health care for veterans. However, his dealings with the White House go way back; he served in during 43 President George W. Bush's administration, and was in charge of resuscitative medicine, for a trauma unit in the Iraq War. "I look forward to meeting Admiral Jackson and learning more about him".

"I believe in a strong VA that provides the best possible care for our veterans", Reed said.

Jackson has served since 2013 as the physician to the president, one of the people in closest proximity to Trump day in and day out.

"We were surprised", said American Legion Executive Director Verna Jones.

In a statement, Trump praised Jackson as "highly trained and qualified".

"They saw me as an obstacle to privatization who had to be removed", he wrote. Shulkin said the trip was overhyped and mischaracterized.

Both lawmakers credited Shulkin for his accomplishments in office. "Unless he's going be tough, nothing's going to change".

Politics will exacerbate Jackson's challenge, should he be confirmed, to hang onto this job.

"I think [Shulkin's] done a fantastic job and I hate to see him go", Roe said.

His profile rose after he conducted a sweeping press conference about the president's medical exam in January in which he impressed Trump with his camera-ready demeanor and deft navigation of reporters' questions as he delivered a rosy depiction of the president's health, according to a person familiar with the president's thinking but not authorised to discuss private conversations. Trump, who is known to eat junk food and to avoid exercise beyond golf, is overweight and has set a "reasonable goal" of losing 10 to 15 pounds in the coming year and developing a regular fitness routine, Jackson said.

Aside from his experience, it's the fight over privatization that may define Jackson's potential term.

However, Shulkin wrote that the VA has become "entangled in a brutal power struggle" between those who want to improve VA healthcare - and those who want to move it to the private sector. These individuals, who seek to privatize veteran health care as an alternative to government-run V.A. care, unfortunately fail to engage in realistic plans regarding who will care for the more than 9 million veterans who rely on the department for life-sustaining care.

The leaders of veterans' groups sounded alarm on the pick, and said they weren't consulted with the White House.

"We were hoping that we prevailed, but at least he isn't appointing one of those rabid privatization people, so that's a plus", he said.

A White House official said Trump warmed to Jackson and had been aware that Shulkin had sought to make Jackson the VA undersecretary previous year. Bernie Sanders, who sits on the Senate Veterans Committee, for instance, urged his peers to not "approve any nominee for secretary who supports the privatization of the VA".

In 2014, the VA was rocked by a scandal over phony record-keeping first exposed at a Phoenix VA facility that led to delayed care and patient deaths.

"He's more enthusiastic about the diet part than the exercise part", Jackson added.

  • Rogelio Becker