Trump’s VA pick draws concern
President Donald Trump’s selection of his White House doctor to run the massive Department of Veterans Affairs triggered concern Thursday among lawmakers and veterans groups about whether he has the experience to manage an agency paralyzed over Trump’s push to expand private care.
Ronny Jackson, a Navy rear admiral entrusted with the health of the past three presidents, is a lifelong physician whose positions on privatizing operations in the second largest federal department and addressing ballooning health care costs are unknown. First named to the top White House post by President Barack Obama, he would be new to running a big bureaucracy if given leadership over a department of 360,000 employees serving 9 million veterans.
In a statement, Trump praised Jackson as “highly trained and qualified.” But representatives of veterans aren’t sold on the choice, or on Trump’s decision a day earlier to fire VA Secretary David Shulkin.
“There is little that we know about Dr. Ronny Jackson’s vision and qualifications,” said Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “Our concern is whether President Trump was more interested in picking a secretary who would be politically loyal rather than someone who can work across the aisle to fix long-standing problems of bureaucratic delay.
“We look forward to a rigorous confirmation hearing,” Rieckhoff said.