Shulkin Says He Was Ousted From The VA For Opposing Privatization

Donald J. Trump on Twitter:

Former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin used an op-ed late Wednesday to blast "the environment in Washington" that "has turned so toxic, chaotic, disrespectful and subversive that it became impossible for me to accomplish the important work" of his job. The announcement came as quite a surprise, since Shulkin was well regarded on both sides of the aisle, and was a hold-over from the Obama Administration.

AMVETS Executive Director Joe Chenelly questioned whether Jackson, who has no experience in management, is qualified to run a $200 billion a year bureaucracy, the second largest agency in the United States government. Mr. Trump announced that he was replacing Shulkin in a series of tweets, and said he would nominate Adm. Ronny Jackson, who had been serving as the president's doctor, to replace him. But in the meantime, it will be Robert Wilkie, Department of Defense (DoD) undersecretary, who will serve as acting secretary in the interim.

Former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin deserved to be fired - but not for the likely reason he was was actually ousted this week.

Shulkin had served as head of the VA since February 2017, when the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed him. He improperly accepted tickets to a Wimbledon tennis match and spent much of the trip on sightseeing activities, the IG found.

Ned Price, a National Security Council spokesman under President Barack Obama who was served by Jackson, described the doctor as "the guy you always want to be around" because he's affable and amusing. His decision to follow the lead of DoD and acquire a commercial off-the-shelf EHR from Cerner got high marks at the time from health IT groups.

His plan remains in limbo after Congress declined last week to include it in a spending bill.

What's more, negotiations between VA and Cerner have been delayed.

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Negotiations between the VA and Cerner to finalize the EHR contract have been going on for almost a year due to a series of delays. MITRE Corporation would be conducting the external assessment and Shulkin said earlier this month that MITRE provided the VA with 51 recommendations, and that the agency was building these into the contract with Cerner.

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. "VA typically does not comment on ongoing contract negotiations".

Shulkin's departure comes at a critical point during the VA Cerner EHR implementation.

A Texas native who has been on active duty since 1995, Jackson served during the US -led war in Iraq as an emergency medicine physician in Taqaddum, Iraq.

After more than a month of rumored agency infighting and Shulkin falling out of Trump's graces, Shulkin has finally broken his silence and is using this platform to speak out about what he sees as those "putting their personal agendas in front of the well-being of our veterans".

"We are disappointed and already quite concerned about this nominee", said Joe Chenelly, the national executive director of American Veterans.

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