President-elect Joe Biden said today he will nominate California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The nomination will be subject to Senate confirmation.

Becerra is a former member of Congress and would become the first Latino to head HHS.

On the healthcare technology front, HHS plays an outsized role in combating the coronavirus pandemic through component agencies that include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS).

As part of MeriTalk’s CIO Crossroads project, then-HHS CIO Jose Arrieta provided a window into the agency’s extensive technology operations, including its role as a hub for the collection of COVID-19 data gathering and analytics that informs pandemic-fighting efforts in both the government and private sector.

Also, in the healthcare arena, Biden announced the following nomination and appointments:

  • Vivek Murthy as Surgeon General;
  • Rochelle Walensky as CDC Director;
  • Marcella Nunez-Smith as COVID-19 Equity Task Force Chair;
  • Anthony Fauci as Chief Medical Adviser to the President on COVID-19 and continuing as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases;
  • Jeff Zients as Coordinator of COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President; and
  • Natalie Quillian as Deputy Coordinator of COVID-19 Response.

“This trusted and accomplished team of leaders will bring the highest level of integrity, scientific rigor, and crisis-management experience to one of the toughest challenges America has ever faced — getting the pandemic under control so that the American people can get back to work, back to their lives, and back to their loved ones,” Biden said.

This team of world-class medical experts and public servants will be ready on day one to mobilize every resource of the federal government to expand testing and masking, oversee the safe, equitable, and free distribution of treatments and vaccines, re-open schools and businesses safely, lower prescription drug and other health costs and expand affordable health care to all Americans, and rally the country and restore the belief that there is nothing beyond America’s capacity if we do it together,” he said.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.