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Biden names Levine HHS assistant secretary for health

President Joe Biden’s pick as the Department of Health and Human Services’ assistant secretary for health could make history if confirmed. Dr. Rachel Levine, who currently serves as health secretary for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, would be the first openly transgender federal official confirmed by the Senate. 

Dr. Rachel Levine

In the position, Levine would lead HHS’ key public health offices and programs, including various presidential and cabinet-level advisory committees and 10 regional health offices across the country. SHe also would oversee the Office of the Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. 

“Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond,” Biden said. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”

In addition to serving as secretary of health in Pennsylvania, Levine is a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Penn State College of Medicine, as well as president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. She is is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine and the Academy for Eating Disorders. 

Her government work began in 2015 when she joined Gov. Tom Wolf’s cabinet as Pennsylvania’s physician general. In 2017, she was named acting secretary of health and was confirmed to the role in March 2018. 

“Dr. Rachel Levine is a remarkable public servant with the knowledge and experience to help us contain this pandemic, and protect and improve the health and well-being of the American people,” Vice President Kamala Harris said. “[We] look forward to working with her to meet the unprecedented challenges facing Americans and rebuild our country in a way that lifts everyone up.”

Biden has previously announced his choices for HHS secretary, surgeon general, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and various COVID-19 response leaders. 


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