Shulkin calls Washington 'toxic' the day after Trump ouster


Shulkin is the second member of Trump's Cabinet to be ousted this month, following Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. "These individuals... seek to privatize veteran health care as an alternative to government-run V.A. care".

David Shulkin and named his White House physician to the post.

He had agreed to reimburse the government more than $4,000 after the VA's internal watchdog concluded last month that he had improperly accepted Wimbledon tennis tickets and that his chief of staff at the time had doctored e-mails to justify his wife traveling to Europe with him at taxpayer expense.

"We've said to Cerner Corporation we are not going to sign a contract that's going to allow proprietary protection and information blocking to continue", said Shulkin during the hearing.

As secretary, Shulkin was forced to accept White House picks for key VA staff positions. Shulkin told NPR that the White House had kept him from defending himself, alleging they had done so for political ends. The report stated that Shulkin made false representations to a VA ethics official and altered an official record, resulting in VA paying for his wife's travel. Committee Chairman Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., instead gave the secretary a strong endorsement. Many of them lauded his service on the evening he was sacked.

In response to a question from NPR about whether Jackson was up to the job, Shulkin said simply: "No one is naturally prepared to take on a task like this". It was clear that the debate on private-sector health care was a touch point in Shulkin's rift with political appointees.

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.

Mr Trump has selected Robert Wilkie, the under secretary of defence for personnel and readiness, to serve as the acting head of the VA.

He also lamented that the department has become increasingly political.

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He listed what he said were accomplishments during his time as VA secretary.

He said the VA has become "entangled in a brutal power struggle" over the health care options for 9 million veterans.

"Privatization leading to the dismantling of the department's extensive health care system is a bad idea".

Upon Shulkin's release, Trump stated his appreciation for Shulkin's work passing the VA Accountability Act. In a statement on Wednesday, Trump followed the replacement announcement with nothing but kind words for the former Veteran Affairs Secretary Shulkin.

A native of Levelland, Texas, Jackson graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in marine biology and went on to attend medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch, graduating in 1995.

Jackson is a Naval officer who has served as White House physician for the past three Presidents. President Obama appointed him as physician to the president, his current role.

Shulkin understood the intricacies of a wide array of veteran programs when he appeared before Congress or met with veteran groups. "The advocates within the administration for privatizing V.A. health services, however, reject this approach".

On Capitol Hill, Jackson's selection was praised by Sen. Shulkin described this as a charge by people who want themselves and certain companies to profit, even if it undermines veteran care.