In an op-ed published in the New York Times late on Wednesday, David Shulkin claimed that he was pushed out as Veterans Affairs secretary because he opposed some administration officials’ push to privatize health care for veterans.
Shulkin wrote that certain successes at the VA have prompted some within the agency to push harder for privatization. Shulkin said he opposed this, which earned him enemies.
“They saw me as an obstacle to privatization who had to be removed. That is because I am convinced that privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans,” he wrote.
He also lamented that the department has become increasingly political.
“Unfortunately, the department has become entangled in a brutal power struggle, with some political appointees choosing to promote their agendas instead of what’s best for veterans,” he wrote. “These individuals, who seek to privatize veteran health care as an alternative to government-run V.A. care, unfortunately fail to engage in realistic plans regarding who will care for the more than 9 million veterans who rely on the department for life-sustaining care.”
President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced that Shulkin would be replaced by the White House physician Ronny Jackson.
Shulkin’s ouster had long been rumored. The VA secretary faced a report from an internal watchdog revealing that he improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets and that he had his wife fly with him to Europe at taxpayers’ expense. Shulkin was also scolded by the White House for bragging to Politico that he had permission to oust political appointees working to undermine him.