WASHINGTON — President Trump fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, MD, on Wednesday, following weeks of speculation that his tenure in that office was ending. The president said he would nominate Ronny Jackson, MD, the White House physician, to replace him.
Shulkin came under criticism in February for not reimbursing the government when his wife traveled with him to Europe at government expense; he later said he would pay the money back.
His star fell further when internal VA investigation released earlier this month found deficiencies in care at the VA medical center here, and Shulkin said he didn’t remember being notified of the problems. Following the report’s release, Shulkin announced plans to reorganize the agency, and started by getting rid of three of its regional directors (two of whom opted to retire).
Jackson coordinated Trump’s annual physical in January and pronounced the president in excellent health. While the nomination is being considered by the Senate, Robert Wilkie, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, will serve as acting VA secretary, Trump said. The president said he was “thankful for Dr. David Shulkin’s service to our country and to our GREAT VETERANS!”
Shulkin drew praise for some of his efforts to reduce waiting time for veterans accessing healthcare, including changes to the Veteran’s Choice program, which pays for veterans to go outside the VA for care under certain circumstances. He was also working on overhauling the agency’s medical records system.