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HHS pick says pandemic is top job, but agenda is broader – Press Telegram

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR

Washington (AP) — Health Minister candidate Xavier Besera told Senator Tuesday that it would be his number one priority if it was confirmed to confront the coronavirus pandemic, but expanded health insurance and prescription drugs. He also promised to reduce the cost of medical care and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care.

“Responding to this moment requires strong federal leadership,” Besera said at the beginning of two hearings on his nomination. “I understand the big challenges in front of us and our solemn responsibility to faithfully manage this institution that touches almost every aspect of our lives.”

Besera is currently the Attorney General of California and has previously represented the Los Angeles area in the US House of Representatives for over 20 years. As a liberal politician lawyer, he faces a lack of clinical background and opposition from many Republican senators who question the right to abortion and support for government-run health insurance. However, in the last 25 years, only one doctor has permanently led the Department of Health and Human Services.

Appearing before the Senate Health Commission, Besera upheld President Joe Biden’s goal of 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days, increased coronavirus testing, and strengthened viral DNA mapping. Tracked the mutations that became and reopened schools and businesses.

For health insurance, he promised to work on expanding the Affordable Care Act during the Obama era, but in the past he supported government-run systems such as Senator Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” idea. He said he would act to reduce drug prices, especially insulin costs. It’s a bipartisan goal. Indiana Republican Senator Mike Brown said Bethera didn’t seem to be backed by the pharmaceutical industry, adding, “I think I know why.”

Major Republicans have described Besera as inappropriate, but Democrats have accused the GOP of playing politics, despite the urgency of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, in his outlook. I don’t seem to be upset.

“We’ve been fighting pharmaceutical companies, opioid makers, tobacco companies, and pollutants for more affordable quality healthcare for all patients,” Becerra said, D-Wash Health Commission Chairman. Senator Patty Murray said. “As a secretary, there is no doubt that he will put special interest in notifications, patients and public health and bring science, data and professionals back to the driver’s seat.”

After appearing on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Commission on Tuesday, Besera will be questioned by the Finance Commission, which will vote to send a nomination to the Senate floor on Wednesday. If confirmed, he will be the first Latin American to lead HHS. It is a $ 1.4 trillion agency with a broad portfolio that includes health insurance programs, drug safety and approval, advanced medical research, and child welfare.

Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, a Republican member of the Health Commission, had no doubt that Besera was facing close scrutiny.

“I haven’t sold it yet,” Barr said at a hearing on Tuesday, looking straight at the candidate. “At this point, I’m not sure if I have the experience and skills needed to do this job.” Burr said, whether Becerra respects the role of private sector companies, especially innovative pharmaceutical companies, in the healthcare system. I questioned.

However, other Republican senators avoided ideological conflicts and asked questions centered on their own concerns. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) Mentioned when Besera was identified, not “if.” Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski advised him to visit the state early.

Besera sought to soften his image as an enemy of pharmaceutical companies. “We need to feel that the American pharmaceutical industry is constantly returning to innovation,” he told Senator Chris Murphy of D-Conn. “COVID is a perfect example of how to devise a vaccine, but you need to make sure it’s worth a dollar.”

And he also praised the Trump administration for two highly effective coronavirus vaccine shepherds. “There are many people who appreciate it, but we would certainly not have been here without the work done by the previous administration,” he told Brown.

63-year-old Besera is politically liberal, but his style is modest and problem-solving oriented.

Still, the Republican opposition grew ahead of his nomination hearing. On Monday, Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana and Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas issued a letter calling Besera “not suitable for any position of public trust” and requesting Biden to withdraw his nomination. did. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, the Republican Party, called him a “famous party.”

Opponents of abortion have signaled to fight the nomination from the beginning, and the political group Heritage Action for America has launched a cable and digital advertising campaign against Bethera.

The Democratic Party is shrugging it.

Oregon’s Finance Commission Chairman Ron Wyden said Republicans were “just hanging out.”

In many respects, Besera was California’s early opposition to the Trump administration. He was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in early 2017 to replace Kamala Harris as State Attorney General.

In four years, he has filed 124 proceedings against the Trump administration over immigration, environmental and healthcare policies. His proceedings and voice resistance to Trump’s policies could allow Republicans to portray him as an overly partisan figure. California was proud to see itself as a resistance to Trump, and Besera embodied that spirit.

No medical experience will disqualify a candidate for an HHS secretary, but it can be a plus. The secretaries recently confirmed in the Senate include not only one doctor, but also a pharmaceutical company executive, the White House budget director, and three governors.

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Associated Press writer Kathleen Ronayne contributed this report from Sacramento, California.

HHS pick says pandemic is top job, but agenda is broader – Press Telegram Source link HHS pick says pandemic is top job, but agenda is broader – Press Telegram

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