Ascension CEO Anthony Tersigni among contenders for top VA spot

The CEO of the nation's largest nonprofit health system may be tapped to lead the second largest federal department. Sources familiar with the matter say Anthony Tersigni, EdD, president and CEO of St. Louis-based Ascension, is being considered to fill the role of secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The role is vacant after Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, MD, withdrew his nomination April 26.

Ascension's participation in the Veterans Choice Program makes Dr. Tersigni uniquely qualified to fill the role, according to sources familiar with the matter. To date, Ascension has cared for more than 10,000 veterans through this program.

"Ascension has challenged itself to think differently about how we care about our veterans and use learnings from the program thus far, from providers who participate in the program and most importantly, from veterans themselves on how we can better improve care delivery for this important population," Dr. Tersigni wrote in a January 2017 column for Becker's Hospital Review. "Being where we need to be, and how we need to be there, has always been a hallmark of Ascension, and it is what drove our interest in being a valued partner of the VA to serve veterans under its community care programs."

Other potential nominees include VA Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie; Delos "Toby" Cosgrove, MD, former CEO of Cleveland Clinic; Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., chairman of the House VA Committee; former Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla.; and Pete Hegseth, a former military officer and former CEO of Concerned Veterans of America, according to a report from ABC News.

"I have many people who want the position, if you can believe it, with all this being said," President Donald Trump said Friday, referring to allegations that mounted against Dr. Jackson last week, according to ABC.

Dr. Jackson withdrew his nomination after 23 of his current and former colleagues came forward with specific allegations of Dr. Jackson being drunk on the job, improperly distributing prescription medications and creating a hostile work environment. The Democratic staff of the Senate VA committee published a summary of the allegations in a two-page memo April 25.   


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