WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, met by videoconference Tuesday with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has been selected by President-elect Joe Biden as nominee-designate to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
“I appreciate that the incoming Biden-Harris administration has brought to the forefront serious nominees who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the policy issues and agencies for which they are about to take responsibility. I am absolutely energized by Attorney General Becerra’s designation to lead HHS and about how the president and Congress can work together to improve the health outcomes of the American people.
“Our conversation began with the highest priority of how our nation will deal with COVID-19, as well as how we can best build on the strongest components of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). We agreed that expanding access to health care, modernizing health care delivery via telehealth, and lowering the cost of prescription drugs were high priorities for the new administration.
“As the senator who authored legislation creating the Offices of Minority Health within six HHS agencies and elevating the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, I look forward to working with Secretary Becerra, once confirmed, on a cross-cutting strategy to address systemic racism in our healthcare system and beyond. The devastating impact of COVID-19 on communities of color was predictable because these communities historically face barriers accessing basic health care. It also presents a unique opportunity to do something bold to minimize health disparities and deal with legal discrimination between races.
“Because of COVID-19, the Secretary of Health and Human Services is one of the most important positions in the government. I am confident that Attorney General Becerra will be able to lead and coordinate HHS agencies to effectively respond to the ongoing pandemic. Under the Biden-Harris administration, it is clear that the U.S. COVID-19 strategy will follow the science and rely on trusted public health officials.”