Virginia governor calls for VCU Health board changes, including chair to step down

Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin has called on Michael Rao, PhD, to step down from his position as chair of Richmond-based VCU Health as part of a reform package he is proposing for the health system board, according to a Sept. 21 Richmond BizSense report.

Mr. Youngkin wants the chair of the health system to be held by someone with time and experience to dedicate to leading the board. Currently, Dr. Rao serves as president of both Virginia Commonwealth University and VCU Health, in addition to chair of the health system's board of directors.

Dr. Rao said he supports the governor's proposal.

"Both boards met last week, and I shared then my belief that healthcare has changed so much, and so rapidly, that the VCU Health board of directors requires a chair 100 percent devoted to the health system, similar to how the president of the University of Virginia is not chair of its health system board/committee," Dr. Rao said. "I support this evolution of the role of the VCU Health board chair."

Mr. Youngkin has also proposed changes in the make-up of the VCU Health board, arguing that current state rule that five physicians sit on it is "arbitrary." The governor also wants to make his own personnel recommendations to the health system board.

The governor's intervention follows the failure of a now abandoned $325 million downtown Richmond medical office project that will keep VCU Health on the hook for $80 million.

Former governor Doug Wilder previously called for the resignation of Dr. Rao over the costly failure.

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