- President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly eyeing Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove for secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Politico reports
- Cosgrove met with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, FL, on Tuesday, and is rumored the top choice for to head the troubled agency.
- Cosgrove, who is a cardiac surgeon, has led the Cleveland Clinic since 2004 and has ties to the military. He served as an Air Force surgeon in Vietnam and was vice chair of a federal commission that studied veterans' healthcare.
“I think he’d be viewed very favorably,” Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told Politico. “He is definitely the most qualified of the people they have put out there.”
Others in the running include Luis Quinonez, a Guatemalan American whose company (MAQ Diversified) provides health services to the military, U.S. Navy Admiral Michelle Howard, and Pete Hegseth, a Fox news contributor, a former Army National Guard captain, and CEO of Concerned Veterans of America, Becker’s Hospital Review reports.
Whoever gets the job will face major challenges. In 2014, President Barack Obama fired then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki amid a scandal at the Phoenix VA Health Care System spurred by long wait lists and patient deaths. A subsequent report of the VA health system found patient experiences on six of ten measures were significantly worse for non-VA patients.
But efforts to reduce wait times and address other problems have opened the agency to potential fraud, and there is still a lack of access to primary care.
Trump has pledged to me VA reform a major focus of his presidency and promised to increase the VA secretary’s ability to dismiss ineffective officials and employees. He has also said he favors privatizing some veterans care as a way of reducing lengthy wait times and improving the patient experience.