Biden’s Health Team Signals Commitment to Access, Equity

The following is a statement from Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).

Washington, D.C., December 7, 2020 —Today, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris announced their nominees for several key leadership positions in health and human services. These principled, wise, and deeply experienced nominees will lead the incoming Administration’s work to support the health and well-being of people across the country during a devastating pandemic. Their records demonstrate a commitment to placing health care access and equity front and center.

Xavier Becerra, Biden’s nominee to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services, has been an outspoken defender of Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act and advocate for access to health care for immigrants throughout his distinguished career in Congress and as California’s Attorney General. Becerra led a multistate lawsuit against the “public charge” rule that has deterred immigrants and their families from accessing health and other human services programs.

We also want to applaud the focus within the health and human services leadership team on the extraordinarily important issue of equity in health care, including behavioral health. Dr. Vivek Murthy, who will reprise his role as Surgeon General, has previously worked to destigmatize addictions and mental illness. Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a scholar with expertise on the intersection of racism and public health, will lead the Biden-Harris administration’s equity task force to analyze the pandemic’s disproportionate impacts on people of color.

The selection of these highly accomplished health and human services policy leaders will ensure that families and children in communities with low incomes have access to the programs they need. I’m confident this group can hit the ground running by not only responding to the pandemic, but also seizing the opportunity to transform the programs that support basic needs and make our country’s health system more equitable and accessible. CLASP stands ready to support these nominees.