Cleveland Clinic's Cosgrove, other health experts aid in VA search for new leader

The government wants input from a panel of nine healthcare industry experts and leaders to help select a new for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary--and one of the panelists is Cleveland Clinic President and CEO Delos "Toby" Cosgrove, M.D., who recently turned down the job, Reuters reported.

Joining Cosgrove are Garry Augustine, executive director of Disabled American Veterans; Patricia Horoho, Army surgeon general ; Kenneth Kizer, a professor at University of California, Davis; John Prescott of the Association of Medical Colleges, Bob Wallace, executive director of Veterans of Foreign Wars, and a handful of others, Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said.  

The group is hunting for a replacement for former Secretary Eric Shinseki, who resigned in May, two days after a Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General report revealed widespread, systematic problems that led to care delays at VA facilities across the country. The scandal started in April when news broke that the Phoenix VA hospital kept a secret waitlist to hide the fact that veterans had to wait months for an appointment and allegations that the delay in care led to the death of at least 40 veterans.

Reports mentioned Cosgrove himself as a possible candidate to replace Shinseki as VA secretary, but he said he does not want the job.

"This is one of the most important jobs in government today," Gibson said in a statement, The Hill reported. "This is the largest integrated healthcare system in the country. We need a leader who will be a change agent and deliver necessary reforms to provide our veterans timely access to the world-class health they've earned and reserved."

Gibson did not mention a deadline for when the panel would wrap up its search, according to The Hill.

Meanwhile, the industry is working to provide care for veterans stuck waiting for care. The Texas Medical Association created a registry for private physicians who were willing to see veterans in their offices, and intend to share the registry with community groups that work with veterans across the state, according to an announcement.

Last week the American Medical Association called for the government to allow veterans to get the care they needed outside the VA system.

An internal audit by the VA revealed that nationwide, an estimated 57,436 veterans are waiting for an appointment for care, and another 63,869 have enrolled in the VA healthcare system over the past 10 years but have not yet had an appointment, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the Reuters article
- read The Hill's coverage
- check out the announcement