Senate Confirms HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, CMS Nominee Pending and FDA Selection Forthcoming
By a narrow vote of 50-49, the US Senate confirmed Xavier Becerra as the next Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) following a protracted and largely partisan confirmation process. Mr. Becerra previously served 12 terms in the US House of Representatives, during which he was a member the Committee on Ways and Means, which has shared jurisdiction over the Medicare program.
Industry expectantly awaits the impact of his influence on various issues within the Secretary’s discretion, including drug pricing and timely access to innovative products. His current perspective can be gleaned from his written responses to questions posed during the confirmation process.
Key members of Secretary Becerra’s staff continue to operate on an acting basis. Liz Richter is serving in an interim capacity as Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Senate confirmation of Chiquita Brooks-LaSure is pending to serve in that role on a permanent basis.
President Biden has yet to nominate someone to lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). With Becerra’s confirmation, calls for a permanent Commissioner increased this week, especially in light of the departure announcement of the agency’s second-in-command, Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernathy. Dr. Janet Woodcock continues to serve as Acting Commissioner. The current FDA organizational chart is available here.
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