With the election of Democrat Joe Biden to the nation's highest office, the U.S. will usher in a new set of healthcare officials and advisers. The former vice president and his top appointees are expected to work to undo most of President Donald Trump's health policies over the past four years in a bid to bolster the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid.
A likely split Congress would prevent the incoming president from enacting any sweeping health reform, such as his public option proposal. But top officials in the HHS, CMS and health adviser positions in the White House will still serve a meaningful role in shaping health policy.
Democrat advisers expect Biden to choose a significant slate of doctors for top appointee slots, per Washington Post reporting, as the 46th president looks to differentiate himself from the science-skeptical Trump administration as the novel coronavirus continues its rampage throughout the country.
Here are some experts, many active in the Obama administration, Biden may look to appoint as HHS secretary and CMS administrator, according to multiple reports sourced from inside Biden's orbit.
Michelle Lujan Grisham
Lujan Grisham became the first Democratic woman elected governor of New Mexico in 2018 after serving three terms as a U.S. congresswoman. While in Congress, nearly a quarter of the bills she sponsored focused on health, according to GovTrack.
Lujan Grisham, who currently co-chairs Biden's transition advisory board and was considered as a VP pick, also served as New Mexico's secretary of health from 2004 to 2007. As governor, she's received applause from public health experts and Democrats for her handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with aggressive preventive measures early on like enforced social distancing and free diagnostic testing.
Lujan Grisham also commissioned a study on implementing a public option at the state level, jibing with Biden's push for the plan nationally, according to Politico.
Bass, a Democratic representative from California, has made healthcare a key focus of her political career, and was a physician assistant before entering government. She's a supporter of universal healthcare and "Medicare for All," which could increase support for her appointment from the more liberal wing of the party but threaten Senate confirmation.
Bass has extensive legislative experience, having served as a congresswoman since 2011. Before that, she was in California's state assembly for six years. She is currently leader of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Cohen served as chief operating officer and chief of staff at CMS in the Obama administration before being tapped as North Carolina's top health official in 2017. As health secretary, Cohen oversees a department of 17,000 employees with an annual budget of $20 million, and is known for advocating for value-based arrangements. She's helping transition the state from fee-for-service Medicaid to a managed care model scheduled to launch in July.
Importantly, Cohen also has experience navigating a split government, having worked with a Democrat governor and a Republican-majority legislature in the state.
She is also an adjunct health policy professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health.
Murthy served as surgeon general during the Obama administration, and was the chairperson of the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council. He was tapped to serve on the board of doctors advising Biden on COVID-19 earlier this year, and has already been selected as a co-chair of Biden's official pandemic task force.
Before joining government, Murthy was an attending physician and instructor at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Emanuel was a health policy adviser in the Office of Management and Budget during the first term of the Obama administration and one of the original architects of the ACA.
On Monday, he was named a member of Biden's COVID-19 task force. The vice provost for global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress served as a health adviser to Biden's campaign and also chaired the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health for 14 years.
Gee served as Louisiana's top health official from 2016 to 2020, overseeing the state's largest agency with a budget of $14 billion. While secretary, Gee oversaw the state's Medicaid expansion, which extended the safety-net insurance coverage to more than 500,000 Louisianans.
Before that, she was the state's Medicaid medical director and the director for the Louisiana Birth Outcomes Initiative, a statewide effort to improve birth outcomes. Currently, Gee is CEO of LSU Health New Orleans' Health Care Services Division.
As Louisiana's health chief, Gee also oversaw a novel drug payment model. Gilead granted the state a five-year license for an unlimited supply of a hepatitis C drug to treat Medicaid members and the prison population in exchange for $60 million a year.
Christen Linke Young
Young served in the Obama administration for eight years, working to pass and implement the ACA. Along with being a principal deputy director in CMS, Young was a senior policy adviser for health at the White House and the director of coverage policy in the HHS' Office of Health Reform.
Young worked another two years in North Carolina as the principal deputy secretary in the state's health department.
After almost a decade in government, Young is now a fellow with the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy, with research focusing on health insurance coverage, especially the ACA.
Patel, currently a fellow at the Brookings Institution, previously served as a director of policy in the White House during the Obama administration and as a senior aide focusing on health, finance and economic reform.
She also served as deputy staff director on health to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and was part of the senior staff of the powerful Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Patel is currently an advisor to the Bipartisan Policy Center and a member of a committee advising HHS on physician-focused payment models.
Palm is Secretary-designee of Wisconsin's health department, and previously worked as a senior adviser to the HHS secretary and White House policy adviser under Obama, during the rollout of the ACA. She also served as the chief of staff for HHS from 2013 to 2014.
Though the Republican-controlled Wisconsin legislature stalled her official appointment, Palm has been managing the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and enacted strict lockdowns that were later overturned by the Legislature.