NPR logo

Trump Nominates VA Undersecretary For Health To Head Department

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/509361816/509361817" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Trump Nominates VA Undersecretary For Health To Head Department

Politics

Trump Nominates VA Undersecretary For Health To Head Department

Trump Nominates VA Undersecretary For Health To Head Department

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/509361816/509361817" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

President-elect Donald Trump says he has nominated Veterans Affairs Undersecretary for Health David Shulkin to become secretary of the department in his administration.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

President-elect Donald Trump made an important cabinet nomination today for Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He's David Shulkin, the VA's current undersecretary for health. NPR's Quil Lawrence reports.

QUIL LAWRENCE, BYLINE: After two years of attacking the VA's current leadership, Trump nominated a man who's been part of it. David Shulkin told NPR last fall that VA has been making great strides.

DAVID SHULKIN: But we have a lot more to do, and that's why it is my number one priority to focus on access to health care. We're putting in the same-day services for veterans in every one of our medical centers. We'll have same-day services in primary care and mental health. And that's going to assure that there aren't veterans in those areas that are waiting for health care.

LAWRENCE: Shulkin is a physician. In fact, he's been seeing VA patients while in office. He's not a veteran, unlike every previous VA secretary. Vets groups may be willing to overlook that, says Louis Celli with the American Legion.

LOUIS CELLI: He's already well-integrated into the Department of Veterans Affairs, so he knows where the bones are buried.

LAWRENCE: Tapping a respected insider at VA may suggest Trump understands just how hard it will be to fix, says Paul Rieckhoff with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

PAUL RIECKHOFF: In many ways, the Trump administration is like the dog that caught the car. They've been blasting VA for two years. Now they've got to run it. So Dr. Shulkin can definitely help them do that, and he has an obligation also to stand up to Trump.

LAWRENCE: For example, Shulkin oversaw increased use of private care outside VA with mixed results. It's not clear where he stands on Trump's plan to expand privatization, an idea unpopular with veterans. Quil Lawrence, NPR News.

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.