President-elect Joe Biden’s health care leadership team is coming into focus.
Biden announced the nomination of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, a surprise as many policy experts anticipated that Biden would pick a governor or someone with a medical background to run this critical executive office, according to the New York Times.
Becerra, 62, is an experienced politician who served 12 terms in the House of Representatives before becoming California’s lead attorney. As attorney general, he became the most public face of a group of state attorneys general who defended the Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court in November. The case, brought by several Republican attorneys general, challenged the ACA’s constitutionality.
Other members of the Biden health care team announced include:
- Rochelle Walensky, M.D., (@RWalensky) to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, also is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an expert on AIDS and HIV, according to Politico. She will lead the effort to rebuild the reputation of a health agency that has been weakened by the Trump administration amid the pandemic.
- Vivek Murthy, M.D., (@vivek_murthy) as surgeon general. He served in the same role under President Barack Obama and has been a chief adviser to Biden on the pandemic during the campaign. He is expected to lead the public outreach on the pandemic, says the Times.
- Jeffrey D. Zients (@JeffZients) as the White House’s coronavirus czar. Zients was head of the National Economic Council in the Obama administration and helped fix the botched roll-out of the ACA health insurance marketplaces in 2013.
- Marcella Nunez-Smith, M.D., (@DrNunezSmith) as COVID-19 Equity Task Force Chair. She is an associate professor of medicine, pubic health and management at the Yale School of Medicine. She will advise Biden on a government-wide effort to reduce COVID-19 disparities in response, care, treatment including racial and ethnic disparities.
- Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as chief medical advisor on COVID-19 to Biden. He will remain an “essential voice” in informing the public about the health risks and safety measures related to COVID-19 and help the scientific community, the federal government and local officials combat the pandemic.
- Natalie Quillian, as deputy coordinator of COVID-19 response. Quillian is a national security expert and former White House and Pentagon senior adviser who worked on the national response to the opioid epidemic under Obama. She was deputy campaign manager during Biden’s campaign.
For further reading about Becerra and his career, as well as the other members of Biden’s team: