Fired David Shulkin Says He Was Forced out for Opposing VA Privatization

Oscar Cross
March 30, 2018

In response to a question from NPR about whether Jackson was up to the job, Shulkin said simply: "No one is naturally prepared to take on a task like this".

Jackson gained national stage back in January when he did a long press conference highlighting President Trump's health and praising his "good genes".

Shulkin, who was confirmed as VA secretary a little over a year ago, was the last remaining holdover from the Obama administration. Aides said Trump has been eating more fish and fewer cheeseburgers lately.

"If Dr. Jackson can do that, immediately, he will do a lot to help his chances at confirmation", Fischer said.

Shulkin's earlier public comments on the matter rubbed White House officials, including chief of staff John Kelly, the wrong way.

Trump had considered several others for the post, including conservative "Fox & Friends" contributor Pete Hegseth.

President Trump announced Mr. Shulkin would be replaced at the VA on Wednesday and thanked him for his service.

The president announced the move in a tweet, removing the secretary after a highly publicized period of turmoil with the White House that began with allegations of Shulkin improperly accepting gifts on a trip to Europe, during which he supposedly used taxpayer money to pay for his wife's travel.


"I am deeply concerned about the nominee", said AMVETS Executive Director Joe Chenelly in a written statement. "The administration needs to be ready to prove that he's qualified to run such a massive agency, a $200 billion bureaucracy".

As many of you know, I am a physician, not a politician.

The first Health Secretary, Tom Price, resigned in September for similar reasons. Trump said in a statement he is "grateful" for Shulkin's service.

He collided with part of his team at the Veterans Department, which, along with the White House, promoted private health care for retired military personnel.

It was the latest in a series of departures of top administration officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was sacked by Trump earlier this month, and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, whose departure was announced last week.

The sudden departure comes as Mr Trump is seeking to expand the Veterans Choice programme, a campaign promise that major veterans' groups worry could be an unwanted step towards privatising VA health care. Ultimately, the plan was removed from the omnibus bill that was negotiated last week.

Shulkin had drawn fire for a damning report from the inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Hon. Robert Wilkie of the Defense Department will serve as Acting Secretary.

"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", he said. A source told CNN at the time that Trump was pleased with what he saw.

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