A prominent candidate in the running for the position of secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs in the Trump administration has dropped out, citing health concerns.
Luis Quinonez, a businessman in the health care industry and veteran of the Vietnam War, announced Saturday he is withdrawing from the race, Military Times reports.
Two main reasons pushed Quinonez to the forefront of candidates for VA secretary, the first being that he’s served on GOP President-elect Donald Trump’s Hispanic Advisory Council. The second is that he oversees a massive firm in the health care industry, MAQ Diversified, which has 25,000 physicians in its network, and is also responsible for operating hospitals. The company is based in Virginia.
Unfortunately, Quinonez has suffered from cancer over the last several years, sources close to him said. Quinonez first confirmed to Univision last week he had spoken to Trump and was under consideration for one of the most important cabinet posts in the incoming administration.
The pick for VA secretary is one of the most important for Trump because of his emphasis on veterans during his campaign, but also because the department has been beset by countless scandals, especially during the last two years of the Obama administration. An unnamed official a part of the Trump transition team told reporters recently that Trump was considering steps to privatize part of the VA by allowing some veterans to sidestep the department entirely and access all care from the private sector.
Numerous veterans’ groups have come out in December, urging Trump not to privatize the VA.
“The worst case scenario within the vets community is a total dismantling of everything they worked generations to create,” Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said. “There is a growing fear it is all going to get burned down.”
“Privatization is an experiment,” Rieckhoff added. “Is that an experiment we want to take in the middle of a war with demand about to skyrocket?”
Now, with Quinonez out of the running, the next leading candidate is likely Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove.
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