Report: VA Secretary Shulkin interviewed for HHS secretary role

The much-liked holdover from the Obama administration is a top contender to fill the position abruptly left vacant by Tom Price.
By Jessica Davis
11:58 AM
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Veterans Affairs’ Secretary David Shulkin

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Secretary David Shulkin, MD, was interviewed by the White House for the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary position, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

Shulkin is a top contender for the position, but his success in his current role at the VA may hinder his chances. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb are also reportedly being considered for the role.

The VA has not confirmed or denied WSJ’s report.

[Also: Trump, Shulkin announce 'anywhere-to-anywhere' telehealth plans for VA]

"Sometimes you promote someone who's doing a great job," an official familiar with the situation told WSJ. "On the other hand, these are two highly functioning, effective officials doing a good job where they are. And they're very little trouble."

Shulkin has made a lot of progress since becoming VA secretary in February. He launched a site dedicated to posting wait times at local VA care sites, vowed to protect whistleblowers and determined he would replace the VA’s legacy EHR Vista with Cerner -- along with other initiatives. Shulkin is respected by both political parties.

Shulkin is the remaining holdover from the Obama administration currently working under President Donald Trump.

The position has been vacant since former HHS Secretary Tom Price resigned over reports he took private jets to travel for both work and personal use. An investigation by Politico found Price took 24 private flights, which cost taxpayers about $400,000. Price started as HHS Secretary in May.

As a result of the report, HHS Office of the Inspector General and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform launched separate investigations into his travel. Initially, HHS defended Price’s flights, and before resigning Price promised to repay the administration for the cost. He paid about $52,000 before officially resigning.

Currently, Eric Hargan, a former George W. Bush administration official, is in place as acting secretary.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com