Fired VA Secretary: I Was Pushed Out for Opposing Privatization

President Trump gave Dr. Ronny Jackson a clean bill of health in March - to run the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Mr Shulkin said figures within the administration were planning to privatise veterans' healthcare, and he lost his job because he opposed them.

In a scathing column for the New York Times, Mr Shulkin wrote: "As I prepare to leave government, I am struck by a recurring thought: It should not be this hard to serve your country". It had been rumored for weeks that Shulkin was on thin ice over using taxpayer dollars to partially to fund a vacation to Europe for his wife, slow progress and intense VA infighting.

Jackson, who is an active duty Navy physician, was nominated last week for a military promotion by the President. Ironically, it was Shulkin who had recommended Jackson for an undersecretary position at the agency in fall.

He said the VA has become "entangled in a brutal power struggle" over the health care options for 9 million veterans.

Brig. Gen. Dr. Richard Tubb, who trained Jackson, said in a letter read at Jackson's briefing that the doctor had been attached like "Velcro" to Trump since Inauguration Day.

The president's physician typically travels with the president and oversees the White House Medical Center, which provides medical assistance to the president and vice president.

"I can say that Ty Cobb is the person that would be most directly involved in this, and he's got a statement on the record saying that there's no discussion and there's no consideration of those at this time at the White House", Sanders said.

A major veterans' organization expressed concern over Shulkin's dismissal and Trump's intention to nominate Jackson, whom they anxious lacked experience to run the huge department.

"I've made the decision to reimburse the Treasury, to follow the IG recommendations and I'm committed to doing what we have to do to focus on veterans and make this better", he said.

The first Health Secretary, Tom Price, resigned in September for similar reasons.

Shulkin "has shown grace under fire amid the long-circulated rumors of his imminent departure", said John Rowan, national president of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA).

The White House has not replied to a request for comment on Shulkin's accounting of events. It has already seen Trump remove Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser General H.R. McMaster.

"At a time of critical negotiations over the future of veterans health care reform, VA today has no Secretary, no Under Secretary of Health, and the named Acting Secretary has no background in health care and no apparent experience working in or with the Department", it said.

The Cerner EHR that the VA plans to implement over 10 years will cost a total of $15.8 billion, according to the latest agency data provided to Congress. He cited the vast mental health needs of veterans returning from war as an area that would be gravely impacted.

Shulkin won unanimous confirmation from the Senate previous year and had enjoyed bipartisan support and the backing of the President, who touted his legislative victories at the Veterans Affairs department.

  • Salvatore Jensen