Nancy Schlichting, the recently retired CEO of the Henry Ford Health System who last year chaired a commission tasked with finding ways to revamp the Veteran Affairs Department's health system, Thursday met with the Trump transition team in New York.
President-elect Donald Trump is considering her for a post he's had trouble filling— VA secretary.
Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove withdrew from consideration for that post earlier this week. Luis Quinonez, the other rumored pick, reportedly backed out over the weekend. Quinonez is the president of MAQ Diversified, a Virginia-based physician staffing company.
Through a Henry Ford spokeswoman, Schlichting confirmed that she was meeting with the Trump team but did not elaborate on what would be discussed.
Crain's Detroit Business was able to confirm that Schlichting met with the Trump team to discuss the open VA secretary job
Schlichting retired from Henry Ford at the end of the year after 18 years with the six-hospital, not-for-profit system in Detroit. She spent most of that time as CEO of the system, which features one of the largest employed-physician group practices in the nation.
Schlichting, who last year won Modern Healthcare's Healthcare Marketing Visionary IMPACT Award, spent much of 2016 splitting time between managing Henry Ford, grooming her successor Wright Lassiter III, and chairing the VA's Commission on Care.
The commission published a 292-page report last summer on how to improve care for the nation's 22 million veterans. It listed 18 recommendations to transition the VA to a truly integrated health system over the next 20 years.
The VA has been dogged by complaints of long wait times for veterans to get care, leading, in some reported cases, to patients dying before they could be seen.
The commission called on the VA to replace its 2-year-old private provider "choice program" authorized by Congress with a nationwide series of community-based delivery networks intended to provide veterans with greater access to care.
Trump last week suggested veterans be allowed to choose care from private-sector providers. But veterans said that option is too similar to the "choice program," which has gotten mixed reviews.
Its chief weakness, Schlichting told Crain's Detroit Business in July, is that it is limited to those who have waited at least 30 days for a VA appointment or live at least 40 miles away from a VA health site.
Schlichting said the commission is proposing a new community care network that would be open to all veterans, regardless of how long they have waited for care or where they live. Veterans with service-connected conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, would be granted preferred access to care. But Congress must authorize such a change.
The report also said clinical quality is as good as the private sector, but not in all regions.