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Trump Fires Veterans Affairs Secretary Shulkin Over Corruption Charges

30 March 2018

Just hours after David Shulkin became the latest departure from the tumultuous Trump administration, the outgoing Department of Veterans Affairs secretary wrote a New York Times op-ed slamming the culture of Washington, D.C., and suggesting his ouster was the result of political forces in the Trump White House trying to get him out of the way. Others include Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, FBI chief James Comey and FBI No. 2 Andrew McCabe, Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon, national security advisers H.R. McMaster and Michael Flynn, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, communications directors Hope Hicks and Anthony Scaramucci, and economic adviser Gary Cohn. Committee Chairman Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., instead gave the secretary a strong endorsement.

From a health IT perspective, Shulkin's most noteworthy moment was when VA announced last June that it will replace its aging EHR (electronic health record) system, called VistA, by adopting the same platform as the U.S. Department of Defense, a Cerner EHR system.

The sudden departure comes as Trump is now seeking to expand the Veterans Choice program, a campaign promise that major veterans' groups worry could be an unwanted step toward privatizing VA health care.

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DAV Commander Delphine Metcalf-Foster warned of a leadership vacuum at VA with no secretary, no undersecretaries of health or benefits, and with the named acting secretary, Robert Wilkie, newly installed as Pentagon manpower chief, having "no background in health care and no apparent experience" with the VA.

Trump praised Shulkin as "fantastic" when he chose him to head the VA in January 2017. In a statement on Wednesday, Trump followed the replacement announcement with nothing but kind words for the former Veteran Affairs Secretary Shulkin.

Trump's new pick for secretary faces a steep learning curve.

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A native of Levelland, Texas, Jackson graduated from the medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch and began his active naval service in 1995. He later served as a physician to former president Barack Obama, before the Trump administration. 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. He shaped caregiver expansion plans and led efforts to streamline VA community care options. That is because I am convinced that privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans. "Our job is to strengthen the VA, in order to provide high-quality care to our veterans, not dismember it". "I appreciate the work of Dr. David Shulkin and the many great things we did together at Veterans Affairs, including the VA Accountability Act that he was helpful in getting passed", said the President.

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

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Trump Fires Veterans Affairs Secretary Shulkin Over Corruption Charges