Health and Human Services Secretary Will Play Essential Role in Shaping Healthcare System Post-COVID

American Heart Association comments on President Biden’s nomination for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Beccera, who will appear in a hearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the Senate Committee on Finance on February 23.

President Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Xavier Becerra, will appear before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the Senate Committee on Finance for confirmation hearings February 23.

Becerra, who currently serves as California's attorney general, will have his hearing follow another of Biden's pick for U.S. attorney general, judge Merrick Garland. His hearing will be followed by a second hearing on Tuesday.

Biden has more than two dozen nominees in his cabinet still waiting to be confirmed by the Senate.


If confirmed, Becerra will be the first Latino to lead the department.

It's significant to add he is a former member of Congress who has already played a critical part in national healthcare issues, having been the chief defender of the Affordable Care Act in court.

American Heart Association (AHA) CEO Nancy Brown said the Biden administration has made the COVID-19 pandemic its top public health priority, and the AHA remains committed to providing the public and healthcare providers with trusted, science-based tools and resources that empower us to defeat virus and address the health disparities that have been laid bare by the pandemic.

“The Secretary of Health and Human Services has an essential role to play both in the ongoing public health response and in the work to shape our healthcare system for the future to ensure equitable healthcare for everyone in America," Brown added.

To achieve this goal, Brown said the HHS must:

  • Expand access to affordable and adequate insurance coverage.
  • Ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use by the FDA. This includes anticipating and mitigating disparities by race, sex and/or gender, disability status, health insurance status, citizenship status and geographic location in the delivery and availability of the vaccine.
  • Work to strengthen the public health infrastructure, including data systems modernization.
  • Support critical research at the National Institutes of Health and public health programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and its divisions, offices and programs that address cardiovascular disease.
  • Exercise the FDA’s full authority to regulate the manufacture, marketing and sale of all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes.

“Our commitment to equitable health for everyone requires us to address racial and economic inequities aimed at improving access to quality healthcare, preventing tobacco and nicotine use, funding cardiovascular disease research and prevention programs and encouraging healthy eating and active living," Brown said. "We look forward to working with Xavier Becerra, if confirmed, to protect and improve the health of everyone in this country, consistent with our mission to be a relentless force for longer, healthier lives.”