Biden looks at New Mexico Governor Obama’s secretary general for health

“Now Covid works around the clock,” said Don Berwick, a former head of Medicare and Medicaid in the Obama administration. – That needs to be addressed.

Biden, according to three Democrats familiar with the selection process, has not yet made a final decision, and an announcement is likely to be made no earlier than Monday. The deliberations could continue to roll back to others in a half-dozen final field such as Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, Rebekah Gee, former Louisiana health secretary, and Mandy Cohen, North Carolina health secretary.

But Lujan Grisham and Murthy are widely regarded as leading candidates, more than half a dozen people said before or near the transition, and each boasts a variety of political experiences, health policy slices and Obama’s years-long relationship.

Lujan Grisham, a former Democratic congresswoman who is currently president of Biden’s transition, Luiss Grisham has been given impetus by the Spanish Caucasus in Congress, which is lobbying for Biden’s team to get to HHS.

“When we think of someone who is a manager and a leader who knows these issues, Michelle is at the top of the list,” said California Democrat Pete Aguilar, who worked closely with Lujan Grisham during his three terms in the house.

Influential Latin advocacy groups also considered his name, especially his leadership in the pandemic.

“He saw the impact of Covid-19 directly on the state and handled the response – and had to do a lot because there wasn’t much federal guidance,” said Janet Murguia, president of UnidosUS, a former Clinton White House official. . “He knows what it’s like to lead in this field and is a very credible candidate.”

Murthy, meanwhile, enjoys a wide range of Obama administration alumni who quickly populated the Biden transition. During the campaign, Biden’s health advisor, as co-chair of the advisory board of Biden Covid-19, helped plan the outbreak for the incoming administration.

If not selected to lead the HHS, Murthy is likely to be appointed to another senior health post in the administration, several people close to the transition said – potentially as part of the White House Covid-19 response team.

A spokesman for the Biden transition did not want to comment. Lujan Grisham’s office did not respond to the request for an opinion. Earlier this week, he told reporters that he had not spoken to the Biden team about roles in the incoming administration.

The emergence of the two as outstanding HHS candidates reflects the oversized impact of the epidemic in Biden’s thinking as he prepares to take office amid deep public health and economic crises.

The incoming administration is frenetically starting the first few months of curbing the pandemic and organizing a large-scale vaccination campaign – a huge logistical challenge that requires close coordination between the federal government.

In Lujan Grisham, Democrats say the Biden team would gain a competent and stable leader with extensive leadership experience in leading the New Mexico Health Agency and then the state as a whole. He was also one of the most aggressive governors in the fight against Covid-19, declaring a state-level emergency the same day. New Mexico confirmed its first positive case and closed schools soon after.

More recently, it ordered a two-week shutdown after a 200 percent jump in hospitalizations, which the state called the “breaking point.” This is the kind of action that Republicans can subject to intense scrutiny if appointed – but one ally thinks as a sign of decision-making in a state that requires a balance of all sorts of political and cultural aspects.

“This epidemic is a premium that brings people together and can be a good manager,” Aguilar said. “Its population is very diverse; urban areas, very rural areas and Native American tribal areas. The complexity of this does not take away those outside the state.

The Biden team in charge of health positions were similarly attracted to governors and former governors in search of candidates, said a person close to the president-elect, taking into account the experience of state leaders in handling large bureaucracies and both public communications and the capabilities of political actors. Former HHS secretaries who were governors were Kathleen Sebelius, Mike Leavitt and Tommy Thompson.

And Lujan Grisham can be seen as a long-term perspective, especially among some Biden officials, who can create a broader political agenda beyond the pandemic response. While running for the post of governor in 2018, Lujan Grisham called for a program that would allow people to buy into Medicaid. The effort never started amid concerns about costs, but the concept is in line with Biden’s basic proposal for a state-level state insurance option.

“On paper, there are a lot of IDs in his favor,” one Democrat said after the deliberations, adding that Lujan Grisham also has existing connections on Capitol Hill. “His reputation is quite pragmatic and he has been able to work on different aspects of the various bodies of the House.”

Nevertheless, ratification of the Senate cannot be guaranteed – an aspect that is important to an administration that may need Republican help in setting up one of the leaders in response to a pandemic. As a home MP, Lujan Grisham benefited when his former advisory group was contracted to run New Mexico’s high-risk insurance pool – even after Obamacare largely eliminated the hedging model. The agreement has since provoked conflicts of interest.

Despite his role at the top of the transition, Lujan Grisham does not have such a close relationship with Biden, or has a close relationship with the Obama White House that Biden has shared with almost every high-level national team so far, including Murthy.

A former surgeon from the Obama administration was elected to speak at the Democratic National Convention in August and has since become Biden’s chief health adviser, keeping him regularly informed of the epidemic and helping lead the Covid-19 advisory board set up to oversee the transition. work on crisis management.

Biden has sent Murthy in recent weeks to brief Congressmen Democrats on the pandemic. This close role in the transition was called upon to indicate to Murthy the high rank in the incoming administration.

Murthy, who came to the fore as one of the founders of the Obama-friendly medical group during the 2008 presidential campaign, was named Murthy as the nation’s chief physician in 2014, where he played an open role in curbing the opioid crisis. and addressing a wide range of urgent public health issues.

If elected HHS Secretary, it would mean a significant reinvestment in public health issues, often suppressed by divisive debates over policies like Obamacare – leaving the nation’s public health infrastructure underfunded and prone to disasters like Covid-19. Murthy also wrote a lot about the health effects of loneliness, focusing on Biden’s focus on dealing with the mental health consequences of a pandemic.

However, Murthy has little managerial experience – a downside to running the department with a trillion-dollar budget and 80,000 employees.

And already in a ratification process, he faced fierce resistance to supporting access to contraception and declaring gun-related violence a public health threat. This break has lasted for more than a year – a delay that the Biden administration can afford to afford this time as it faces the growing Covid-19 crisis.

Nevertheless, some officials have argued that views on gun-related violence as a health issue have changed since then – and that Biden’s attraction to Murthy may eventually win.

“If you look at the other staff announcements of the president-elect, it is clear that he is very interested in having people he knows and trusts who already have a relationship with him,” one of the people dealing with the transition told POLITICO. “Obviously Vivek is one of them.”