Members of the US Senate voted 50-49 this Thursday, March 18th to confirm Xavier Becerra as the head of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He will become the first Latino head of the HHS after beginning office.
Becerra will be overseeing a department that regulates activities that account for over $4 trillion in annual US expenditure and approximately 18% of the US gross domestic product.
Xavier Becerra has been a representative of the state of California from 1993 to 2017 in the US House. He has also been California’s attorney general since 2017. Becerra will now oversee the agencies that run Medicare, Medicaid, aging programs outside Medicaid, medical research programs and the US response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the head of the HHS will be taking over the CDC and other federal health agencies. His office will be to chalk out the national health agenda of the nation during Biden’s Presidency.
Xavier Becerra Confirmed In A 50-49 Vote
Thursday’s vote was split majorly along party lines. However, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), crossed her party lines to vote for Xavier Becerra. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), was not present at the vote owing to a family emergency. Some Republicans accused the Democrat-backed Becerra of lacking experience in health policy to make it as the HHS head.
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a medical doctor, mentioned during the hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on the Becerra nomination that he believes Xavier Becerra to have impeccable credentials as an attorney but not as an HHS official.
Becerra was previously known in California for his efforts to execute a government-run, single-payer health care system. President Joe Biden said during campaigning that he intended to expand public access to the health care system by improving on the current Affordable Care Act framework, rather than by replacing the current framework with a single-payer system.