In shake-up, Trump names Texas doc Ronny Jackson to lead Veterans Affairs

29 March, 2018, 02:23 | Author: Bert Pena
  • The lawsuit also claims the agency acquired the land prematurely and before the environmental review process was complete

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he will replace his Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin with Ronny Jackson, who now serves as physician to the President. The president also has chose to replace his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster. It was not immediately clear whether he must first retire from the Navy before becoming eligible to join the Cabinet.

Navy Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson, the lead White House doctor, said on January 16 that President Trump's "overall health is excellent".

From a policy perspective, the fight centered around two versions of a bill to give veterans greater access to private health care.

Shulkin, 58, did not serve in the military.

The report fueled Shulkin's critics, both within his own agency and outside it, and brought into the open the power struggle over how to best care for the nation's veterans. Its sprawling health-care and benefits system, which Trump blasted on the campaign trail as a wasteful, inefficient failure, serves 9 million former troops. Headlines openly pondered who was in charge at the VA, and veterans service organizations, which strongly support Shulkin and oppose privatization, started using words like "coup" and circulating lists of officials in the VA who were trying to undermine Trump's VA secretary.

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Having pushed through legislation in Trump's first year making it easier to fire bad VA employees and speed disability appeals, Shulkin leaves behind a department in disarray. He oversaw creation of a 24-hour hotline for veteran complaints and improved transparency, posting wait times for medical appointments at each facility and other quality-control measures consistent with many private sector hospitals.

A White House official said the embattled Shulkin was no longer effective in his role, saying his "distractions were getting in the way of carrying out the President's agenda". "That was always festering beneath the surface - he was an Obama holdover", Carter said. "He never quite clicked with the president's inner circle".

Trump, who promised improved veterans' care during his presidential campaign, past year said the department had made "tremendous progress" under Shulkin.

Moving Selnick out of the VA was his "biggest mistake", Shulkin told a confidant, according to Politico.

Shulkin's fate had remained in doubt following a blistering report by VA's internal watchdog in February that found he had improperly accepted Wimbledon tennis tickets and his staff had doctored emails to justify his wife traveling to Europe with him at taxpayer expense. In a December email obtained by The Washington Post, senior VA appointees Jake Leinenkugel and Camilo J. Sandoval openly discussed ousting Shulkin, his chief of staff and his deputy because Shulkin was not aggressively pushing an increased use of private care for veterans. He was previously appointed by Obama as undersecretary for health at the VA in July 2015.

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