Partners, Mayo Clinic leaders are quietly advising Trump on VA care: 7 things to know

Leaders from several large health systems, including Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic, Boston-based Partners HealthCare and Cleveland Clinic, have been working behind the scenes to advise the Trump administration on how to improve the Department of Veterans Affairs, reports The Boston Globe.

Here are seven things to know.

1. The leaders who have been involved in the discussions around the VA include Mayo Clinic CEO John Noseworthy, MD; Partners CEO David Torchiana, MD; Cleveland Clinic's former CEO, Toby Cosgrove, MD; and Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine CEO Paul Rothman, MD.

2. The healthcare executives have been meeting with President Donald Trump and his associates for more than a year. The conversations date back to at least December 2016, when they met at Mar-a-Lago, President Trump's Florida resort, to discuss the topic with the then-president-elect.

3. "We have been working behind the scenes to help the White House and [former] Secretary [David] Shulkin, MD, to help the VA," Dr. Noseworthy told business leaders at a meeting of the Boston College Chief Executives Club, according to The Globe. "We will continue to provide advice and counsel in the background."

4. Dr. Noseworthy said he has had "quite a few" conversations with the White House and VA officials, including at least four or five discussions with President Trump. He added that the government leaders call the large health system CEOs often and they respond immediately.

5. The VA has been in the spotlight a lot recently, as Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, MD — the White House physician and President Trump's nominee to lead the VA — withdrew his name from the running April 26 after allegations of drunken behavior, improper prescribing and poor leadership.

6. When an audience member at the Boston College Chief Executives Club asked Dr. Noseworthy if he would consider the VA secretary role, he responded, "The next person to take that on … should be someone who truly understands how complex it is. It's a very, very tough job."

7. A spokesperson for Partners confirmed to The Globe that Dr. Torchiana participated in a few meetings at the White House in early 2017 about the VA and the National Institutes of Health.

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