This article was updated on Tuesday, December, 8.
President-elect Joe Biden picked his COVID-19 task force, but now he must choose his top healthcare officials. Healthcare is going to be a defining issue of Biden’s presidency especially with vaccines rolling out soon, as well as the task of managing Medicare’s financial problems.
As of now, the Congressional Budget Office projects that Medicare’s giant trust fund for inpatient care will be unable to cover expected costs in 2024.
Biden’s healthcare team
A couple of names have been thrown around, but nothing is set in stone yet. Biden is also expected to announce his choice for HHS secretary next week. But for now, here are the predictions of Joe Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services team.
Though Rhode Island Dem. Gov. Gina Raimondo’s name had popped up as the leading candidate for the top health board seat, another name has been announced for Health Secretary.
President-elect Joe Biden has nominated California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to serve as the head of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Becerra will be the second Latino named to a high-profile Cabinet position by Biden. He will be tasked with leading a sprawling agency that is responsible for managing the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The president-elect is expected to formally announce Becerra as the new Health Secretary on Monday or Tuesday of next week.
Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Dr. Rochelle Walensky has been nominated as the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by President-elect Joe Biden.
Walensky teaches at Harvard Medical School and is an infectious disease physician at both Massachusetts General Hospital and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, according to her biography on the former hospital’s website.
Chief Medical Adviser
President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday said he has asked the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, to become his chief medical adviser and said he plans to call on Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days of his administration.
Biden said he asked Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “to stay on the exact same role he’s had for the past several presidents.” Biden also said he asked Fauci to be his chief medical adviser and be part of his COVID-19 team.
In regards to the mask mandate, Biden said, “Just 100 days to mask, not forever, 100 days. And I think we’ll see a significant reduction.”
White House coordinator of the coronavirus response
Biden has named businessman Jeff Zients, as White House coordinator of the coronavirus response. Zients serves as an economic adviser in the Obama White House who was widely credited with ‘rescuing HealthCare.gov’ after its problematic launch in 2013. According to AP News, vaccines developed under the Trump administration will be delivered on Biden’s watch, a massive undertaking that’s bound to have its share of logistical problems.
Leader of COVID-19 Equity Task Force
Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center at Yale School of Medicine, will lead a new task force aimed at reducing disparities in response, care, and treatment for COVID-19, the Biden team said.
US Surgeon General
Biden announced he will nominate Dr. Vivek Murthy as US Surgeon General, a role Murthy held under the Obama administration. Dr. Murthy has been a key coronavirus adviser to Biden, regularly briefing him on the pandemic during his campaign and the transition.
As Murthy is set to return to the same position he held from 2014 to 2017, he is also expected to have an expanded portfolio, two sources familiar with the matter tell CNN, as the President-elect’s team crafts their plans to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
The position of FDA Commissioner remains unfilled. Biden is said to be close to nominating a commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration and a director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Under consideration for FDA is former deputy commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, who has also served as Maryland’s health secretary, and Dr. Luciana Borio, a member of Biden’s coronavirus advisory board who formerly held senior posts with the FDA and the National Security Council and has expertise in responding to disease outbreaks and bioterrorism.