Meet new HHS secretary Xavier Becerra: 5 things to know

The Senate has confirmed Xavier Becerra as the next HHS secretary. He will lead a $1 trillion-plus agency with 80,000 employees. 

The Senate narrowly confirmed Mr. Becerra's nomination by a 50-49 vote March 18.

Five things to know about Mr. Becerra, the first Latino to head HHS. 

1. Mr. Becerra has served as attorney general of California since January 2017. As attorney general, his work includes leading the defense of the ACA before the Supreme Court on behalf of 20 states and Washington, D.C. At HHS, he will likely work to advance policies aimed at expanding and bolstering the health law, The Washington Post reported.

2. Before becoming California attorney general, Mr. Becerra served 24 years in Congress as a member of the House of Representatives. He also served one term as a representative in the California Legislature.

3. Mr. Becerra has long supported single-payer healthcare, a stance he's held since first being elected to Congress in 1993, according to Kaiser Health News. More recently, he said he supports "Medicare for All" proposals put forth by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. However, President Joe Biden has opposed Medicare for All proposals, and has focused his policy on building out the ACA. President Biden's priorities "will be my mission," Mr. Becerra said during a committee hearing before his confirmation. 

4. During Senate confirmation hearings, Mr. Becerra indicated his support for permanent telehealth expansions. Mr. Becerra said he wants to boost technology accessibility and is committed to permanently expanding payment policies that have increased virtual health during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Politico.

5. Mr. Becerra also supports abortion rights. According to The Washington Post, his support includes defending regulations in California on crisis pregnancy centers, as well as his support for a requirement for workplaces to cover contraception for employees. 


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