Biden Considers Two Governors, Former Surgeon General for HHS

President-elect Joe Biden is preparing to announce several of his administration’s health leaders as soon as next week as he considers two governors and a former surgeon general to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, according to people familiar with the matter.

The candidates to lead HHS include Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, now a co-chair of the Biden transition’s coronavirus advisory board.

After Bloomberg News reported Wednesday that Grisham was a top candidate and CNN reported that Grisham was “the leading contender,” a person close to the transition dismissed the idea that she had any advantage in the process. Another person said Biden has not yet decided on his pick for the post.

Grisham has already been offered -- and turned down -- the Interior secretary job, two people familiar with the matter said.

Biden’s health team will assume office with the U.S. still suffering from the pandemic, as virus cases and hospitalizations soared over the past month. His health secretary is expected to have input on filling other top health posts, such as FDA commissioner and the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the people said, so those appointments may not be announced until later.

Biden Considers Two Governors, Former Surgeon General for HHS

The Health and Human Services secretary will have the tough task of rebuilding Obamacare, which Biden has promised to expand. That would be a difficult undertaking with a Republican-led Senate.

Biden Considers Two Governors, Former Surgeon General for HHS

The U.S. recorded 158,000 new coronavirus infections on Monday and a record 205,000 cases three days earlier. Biden will take office as distribution of coronavirus vaccines ramps up, and he has warned that any delay in the transition to his administration could slow or complicate that endeavor.

Raimondo and Lujan Grisham were both among the candidates Biden considered for vice president and are seen as people he would seek to find a place for in his administration. Raimondo has drawn criticism from the left for her past work in private equity and her opposition to Medicare for All.

Murthy could have a particularly difficult path to confirmation because of his record of speaking about gun violence as a public health threat, a view that may draw strong opposition from Senate Republicans, the people familiar with the matter said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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