Biden picks California AG Becerra to lead HHS, pandemic response

Biden picks Calif. AG Becerra to lead HHS, pandemic response
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Source: AP
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Daily US Times: The US President-elect Joe Biden has picked Xavier Becerra, the California Attorney General, to be his health secretary, putting a defender of the Affordable Care Act in a leading role to oversee his administration’s Covid-19 response.

If confirmed by the Senate, Mr Becerra will be the first Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, a $1-trillion-plus agency with 80,000 employees, leading-edge medical research and a portfolio that includes vaccines and drugs, health insurance programs covering more than 130 million Americans.

The news was confirmed by two people familiar with the decision, who did not want to reveal their names ahead of a formal announcement anticipated this week.

As California’s attorney general, the 62-year-old Becerra has led the coalition of Democratic states of the US defending “Obamacare” from the Trump administration’s latest effort to overturn it, a legal case awaiting a Supreme Court decision next year.

A former senior House Democrat, the Calif. Attorney General was involved in steering the Obama health law through Congress in 2009 and 2010. At the time he would tell reporters that one of his primary motivations was having tens of thousands of uninsured people in his Southern California district.

He has a lawyer’s precise approach to analyzing problems and a calm demeanor.

Overseeing the covid-19 pandemic response will be the most complicated task he has ever contemplated. By next year, the United States will be engaged in a mass vaccination campaign, the groundwork for which has been laid under the Trump administration. Although the Covid vaccines appear very promising, and no effort has been spared to plan for their distribution, it is not possible to tell yet how well things will go when it’s time to get shots in the arms of millions of Americans.

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