This profile contains Biden Administration nominations and appointments made at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Nominations and Appointments
Xavier Becerra is Secretary of Health and Human Services. He formerly served as the 33rd Attorney General of California, and before that served twelve terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Becerra is listed on Demand Justice’s Supreme Court shortlist.
Becerra was narrowly confirmed by the U.S. Senate in a 50-49 vote. Republicans had expressed concerns about his record on abortion, gun control, immigration, and support for Medicare-for-all. In February 2021, eleven Republican senators and more than sixty representatives wrote a letter to President Biden asking him to withdraw Becerra’s nomination, citing what they viewed as his “lack of healthcare experience, enthusiasm for replacing private health insurance with government-run Medicare-for-all, and embrace of radical policies on immigration, abortion, and religious liberty.” That same month, representatives from more than 60 pro-life organizations wrote a letter urging senators to reject Becerra’s nomination, calling his views on abortion “radical.”
Andrea Palm is Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services. She most recently served as Secretary-Designee of Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services. During the Obama Administration, she served in multiple roles at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services including Acting Assistant Secretary for Legislation, Counselor, Chief of Staff, and Senior Counselor to the Secretary. She also formerly worked for then-Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and former Representative Robert Matsui (D-CA).
Chiquita Brooks-LaSure is Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. She formerly served as Managing Director at Manatt Health. Before that, she was Deputy Director for Policy at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and Director of Coverage Policy at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Earlier in her career, she served as a member of the Democratic staff for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, and as a program examiner and Medicaid analyst for the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. She has also served as a Senior Policy Advisor for Breakaway Policy Strategies and as a member of the board of directors of FAIR Health.
Rachel Levine is Assistant Secretary for Health. She formerly served as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and prior to that as Acting Secretary of Health and Physician General. Before that, she served as Vice-Chair for Clinical Affairs in the pediatrics department, and Chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders, at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. She has been a Professor at the Penn State College of Medicine, President of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, and a fellow at the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, and the Academy for Eating Disorders.
Levine was confirmed by a 52-48 vote. Some Republican lawmakers questioned her response to the COVID-19 pandemic while serving as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) attributed the pandemic’s severe impact on the state’s nursing homes “in part to poor decisions and oversight by Dr. Levine and the Wolf administration.”
Vivek Murthy is Surgeon General of the United States. He formerly served in that same role during the Obama Administration, having been confirmed by the Senate in 2014. Prior to that, he co-founded the HIV/AIDS education organization VISIONS, the India-based community health partnership Swasthya Project, the technology company TrialNetworks, and the nonprofit Doctors for America.
Carrie Pugh served as Director of External Affairs in the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs until May 2022, when she left to start the firm 8821 Strategies. Prior to her appointment, she was senior director of the campaigns and elections department at the National Education Association (NEA). Before joining the NEA in 2007, she held multiple positions over six years at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), including national field director, Midwest political director, and deputy political director and presidential program manager. Pugh has served on the boards of the Progressive State Leaders Committee, the AAPI Victory Alliance, and ProgressNow, and was chair of the Democracy Alliance’s New American Majority Fund.
Hannah Katch is a senior advisor at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. She had formerly served as a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities since 2016, and before that was an administrator for the California Medicaid program. She formerly served as a board member at Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.