After Shakeup, Texan Ronny Jackson Named New Veterans Affairs Secretary

Jackson currently serves as White House physician, and is a Navy Rear Admiral.

By Alexandra HartMarch 29, 2018 11:02 am| ,

Wednesday there was yet another shakeup in Washington. President Donald Trump announced via Twitter the firing of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, ending weeks of speculation about his future with the department.

Shulkin had been criticized by conservatives in the Trump White House, and was also the subject of a VA Inspector General’s report questioning his expensive foreign travel.

Navy Rear Admiral and Texan Ronny Jackson, who currently serves as White House physician, will be nominated to replace Shulkin at the VA.

Leo Shane, a reporter for Military Times, says Shulkin, who published an op-ed column for The New York Times, blames his firing on opponents in the White House. 

“He’s placing the blame on these political operatives in the administration who were looking to push more private sector care for veterans,” Shane says. “This is the crux of one of the big health policy arguments going on in the VA right now: how much care should be done in the VA, and how much should be done within the private sector.”

Shane says Shulkin had taken a moderate line on privatization.

The VA is the second largest government agency, by budget, Shane says. The agency has 360,000 employees, and provides care for 9 million veterans, and benefits for many more. The agency continues to have a poor public image, after scandals over care wait-times.

Jackson, who has served as White House physician under three presidents, is an unknown quantity as an administrator.

“Folks are left wondering  – what are his policies, here, is he going to be more of a figurehead kind or person, is he going to be more involved and very tuned into some of these larger health care and privatization debates?”

Shane says lawmakers have so far said they don’t know Jackson, and are looking forward to finding out what his priorities will be.