President-elect Joe Biden has picked Xavier Becerra, the current attorney general of California, to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), according to several news reports.
Prior to serving as California’s top prosecutor, Becerra represented the Los Angeles area in Congress for 12 years.
HHS is currently headed by Secretary Alex Azar. Before Azar, the role of HHS secretary was held by Tom Price, who resigned in 2017 amid scrutiny of his travel spending.
Moving forward, Becerra must be confirmed by the Senate after Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration in order to take over his post. The role will place him at the forefront of efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 — both in the general community and across the operations of America’s in-home care providers.
A record 101,487 COVID-19 patients hospitalized on Sunday, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
In other moves from the Biden transition team, Harvard infectious disease expert Dr. Rochelle Walensky was picked to head the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Associated Press reported Monday. Biden also announced a new advisory role for Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert.
When Becerra previously served as a senior House Democrat, he became known as a staunch defender of the Affordable Care Act.
While Becerra would certainly bring different ideas and approaches to COVID-19, in-home care and health care in general, the switch to a Biden administration is unlikely to create major shockwaves for providers, industry leaders have previously told Home Health Care News.
“I haven’t seen any evidence or indicators where I’d say [a Biden administration would be] ‘drastically different,’” LHC Group Inc. (Nasdaq: LHCG) Chairman and CEO Keith Myers previously told HHCN. “I think Democrats tend to lean into provider-based care. They’re not as much in favor of Medicare Advantage as Republican administrations, in my view.”
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy were previously rumored to be potential picks for HHS secretary in the incoming Biden administration.
Murthy was recently nominated to once again take over as surgeon general.
Additional reporting by Alex Spanko.