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Shulkin Says He Was Ousted From The VA For Opposing Privatization
30 March 2018, 12:19 | Conrad Doyle
Warnings of Koch Brothers Influence After Shulkin Says VA Privatization Advocates Forced Him Out
"It seems that these successes within the department have intensified the ambitions of people who want to put V.A. health care in the hands of the private sector", Shulkin writes. The secretary started to come under fire when in February, a VA Office of Inspector General report revealed that Shulkin took a taxpayer-funded trip to Europe a year ago with his wife. It was clear that the debate on private-sector health care was a touch point in Shulkin's rift with political appointees.
"Despite these politically-based attacks on me and my family's character, I am proud of my record and know that I acted with the utmost integrity".
"I have fought to stand up for this great department and all that it embodies", he said.
Now, the Navy doctor who has been entrusted with the health of the last three presidents is poised for a promotion, tapped to replace David Shulkin at an agency that has been badly bruised by scandal.
The IG released findings February 14 that Shulkin violated ethical standards on an official trip that he and his wife took to Denmark and London during summer. However, his tenure had been clouded recently by controversy stemming from a trip he took to Europe last year-that included his wife-and was the subject of an Office of Inspector General report last month.
He addressed the IG report Thursday with NPR, claiming the trip was "mischaracterized".
An internal investigation of the Department of Veterans, initiated after a journalistic revelation, concluded that the secretary committed "serious negligence" during a trip he made in 2017 to the United Kingdom and Denmark.
White House officials said Shulkin had become a distraction as a result of the speculation surrounding his future.
He vowed to be an advocate of the VA from the outside. Trump nominated Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician, to replace Shulkin. Of Jackson, he said, "I look forward to ... learning more about him".
The selection of Mr Wilkie bypasses VA deputy secretary Tom Bowman, who has come under criticism for being too moderate to push Mr Trump's agenda of fixing veterans' care. He then accepted free tickets to the women's finals match at Wimbledon and lied to ethics investigators about his relationship with the person who gave him the tickets.
Until the past few months, veteran issues were dealt with in a largely bipartisan way. 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. "The administration needs to be ready to prove that he's qualified to run such a massive agency, a $200 billion bureaucracy".
He said the VA has become "entangled in a brutal power struggle" over the health care options for 9 million veterans.
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