HHS Secretary Tom Price Resigns
Dr. Tom Price stepped down as the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last Friday, following controversial use of government funds to charter private jets for official travel. Dr. Don J. Wright, most recently the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS, has been designated by President Trump as the Acting Secretary of HHS until a permanent replacement can be identified. Eric D. Hargan was confirmed by the Senate to take on the role of Deputy Secretary of HHS on Wednesday.
ACTING SECRETARY OF HHS
Don Wright, M.D., M.P.H., has served at HHS for nearly ten years in positions such as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. In these roles, he has worked on and prioritized frameworks for public health priorities and evidence-based health policies. “I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the American people and the Administration in this role,” Dr. Wright said. “I look forward to ensuring that the important work of the Department in support of the President’s agenda continues to move forward during this interim period.”
NEW DEPUTY SECRETARY OF HHS
Eric Hargan was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday to fill the number two position at HHS. Previously a lawyer in Chicago, Hargan served at HHS during the George W. Bush administration, and was part of President Trump’s HHS transition team. When asked if he would accept the position during his confirmation hearing in the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, Hargan said, “The challenges are so great, whether in public health, in health care finance, in facilitating innovation in health care and in the administration of human services, that I cannot imagine not wanting to participate, and to lend to the government both my past experience at HHS, as well as the fruit of my years of work in the health care sector since then, to help as much as I can.”
THE FUTURE OF HHS
The process of nominating an official successor to Dr. Price is currently ongoing and it remains to be seen who from the agency’s hierarchy will be called upon to serve. However, Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz will continue to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, leading the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).