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Bekera confirmed that he is leading Biden’s ambitious health agenda

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WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate on Thursday confirmed California Attorney General Xavier Becker as Biden’s health secretary, filling a key role in the administration’s coronavirus response to its ambitious drive to reduce drug spending and expand health insurance coverage. care.

Bekera, 63, is the first Latino to head the Department of Health and Human Services by 50-49 votes. The $ 1.4 trillion agency includes health insurance plans, drug safety certifications, advanced medical research, drug abuse treatment, and child welfare, including hundreds of Central American migrants arriving daily at the US-Mexico border.

Bekera has been California’s attorney general since 2017. He has sued the Trump administration 124 times over a number of political issues, earning the wrath of the Conservatives. Prior to that, he represented the Los Angeles County House for 24 years. A lawyer, not a doctor, he gained much of his experience in the health care system by passing the Obama-era Affordable Care Act and defending it when Donald Trump was president.

“I understand the enormous challenges we face – our solemn responsibility to be loyal stewards of the agency, covering almost every area of ​​our lives,” Bekera said at a recent hearing. “I am humbled by the task, I am ready for it.” He comes from a working-class Mexican-American family; His father was a road builder and his mother a secretary.

Leading Republicans have dismissed Becker as unfit. But the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, and other industry groups supported his candidacy.

Kentucky Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said: “The distinguishing feature of this candidate’s resume is not his experience in the field of health, medicine or management. This section of the resume is very brief. What stands out is Mr. Bekera’s devotion to the guerrilla war, to the far-left ideology. “

Bekera was reliably liberal in the Palace for almost a quarter of a century, but was not seen as a left-wing fireworks display. His problems were education, immigration and equal treatment of minorities. His profile was low-key inside who could work with Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said the GOP’s arguments against the PAP were “almost ridiculous.” Schumer said Republicans “loudly complained that he had no direct medical experience, even though Republicans voted in favor” of appointing Alex Azar as health secretary under President Donald Trump.

The Biden administration’s COVID-19 response is already in the White House. Biden has signed a $ 1.9 trillion aid bill into law, with agencies making announcements almost daily. But having a health secretary will make a big difference in the mess, says Kathleen Sebelius, who ran the HHS for most of President Barack Obama’s administration.

“Many of the assets that will be potential for this effort are in HHS, it will play a key coordinating role within the department,” Sebelius said. “It adds strength and expertise to the efforts already made.”

The main components of HHS are shoes based on the coronavirus response.

The Food and Drug Administration oversees vaccines and treatment. Most of the underlying scientific and medical research comes from the National Institutes of Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention oversees the spread of the virus and the development of guidelines for the safe reopening of schools and offices. Medicare and Medicaid Services Centers provide insurance coverage for every 1 in 3 Americans, including vulnerable seniors, as well as many children and low-income people.

Becerra will also be a key figure on Biden’s health agenda, which includes insurance for all Americans, replacing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices to eliminate racial and ethnic inconsistencies in the health care system. Prescription drugs and health insurance will lead to serious legislative battles. Democrats may have to do it alone և reuse the special budget maneuver they relied on to pass the COVID-19 aid bill through the Senate without Republican support.

Leslie Dach, a former senior adviser to the HHS in the Obama administration, says Bekera seems ready to take advantage of the health policy change.

“Another time is a period of enormous opportunities in the field of healthcare,” he said. “If Obama’s years were against the backdrop of a tough policy (of health care) that still had to earn its toll, he is entering with a proven, popular law that won over Democrats.” Dach now heads the Defend Our Care advocacy group, which is pushing for more coverage.

The ousting of Beker’s Senate was a defeat for religious and social conservatives who sought to oust him from supporting abortion rights. During the confirmation hearing, Bekera sought to soften the issue by acknowledging the deep-rooted controversy over abortion and assuring senators that she would back down. The law states that abortion is legal, but also that taxpayers’ money cannot be used to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or saving a woman’s life.

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