Cleveland Clinic’s Toby Cosgrove drops out of running for VA secretary

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Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove, M.D., has withdrawn his name from consideration as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

That didn’t last long.

Toby Cosgrove, M.D.

Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove, M.D.—said to be the frontrunner for President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs—has withdrawn his name from consideration.

A source close to Donald Trump told Bloomberg that the president-elect wanted Cosgrove for the job, but the former military doctor couldn’t get out of his commitment to Cleveland Clinic.

Cosgrove, a cardiac surgeon, has served as the head of the nonprofit, multispecialty academic hospital since 2004, and under his direction the institution has become a leader in patient satisfaction.

In early December, Trump named Cosgrove to serve on a nonpartisan panel that will make business and economic growth recommendations to the new administration. Cosgrove then met with Trump prior to Christmas to discuss the VA position, Politico reported. But by New Year’s Day, Cosgrove took himself out of the running. His decision came hours after the other top candidate, Florida businessman Luis Quinonez, decided not to pursue the job due to health reasons, according to the Military Times.

The position to oversee the agency is one of the last Trump has to fill, but it’s a job surrounded by controversy. Cosgrove was actually under consideration for the job in 2014, but instead he decided to stay at the Cleveland Clinic. He was among a panel of leaders to help President Barack Obama find a replacement for the position after former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned from the post after revelations of widespread problems that led to care delays at VA facilities across the country. That role was eventually filled by Robert McDonald, former chairman, president and CEO of The Procter & Gamble Company.

Trump has said he wants to fix the broken VA system by expanding private care options for veterans and getting rid of waste within the agency within his first 100 days in office. But that may be difficult to achieve, as it is now unlikely a new secretary will be in place by the end of January, the Military Times reported.