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Prominent public health experts are pressuring President-elect Biden and his team to include a doctor or experienced health professional in the Cabinet — and growing increasingly alarmed this week that their warnings will go unheeded.

Several former state and local health officials, leaders of public health advocacy groups, and representatives from physician groups have placed calls to contacts advising Biden, drafted formal correspondence to the transition, or, in the case of numerous physician groups, worked to draft open letters stressing the necessity for Biden to appoint high-ranking officials with medical expertise.


The push comes after the Biden transition this week informed Vivek Murthy, the former surgeon general and a top Biden Covid-19 adviser, that he was no longer under consideration to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Murthy, instead, has been asked to serve once again as U.S. surgeon general, Politico reported. He previously held the post from 2014 to 2017, when President Trump dismissed him three months following his inauguration.

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  • I am a nurse and a healthcare government contractor. I work on projects for CMS, AHRQ, and CDC. We absolutely need a physician at the helm of HHS and CMS. The top sets the tone and understanding of the healthcare system for the lower level positions that, usually, don’t have a clue. We as contractors/health service researchers (Rand, Mathematic, etc.) spend too much time explaining when we could be making real changes in healthcare.

  • Good thought, but Ben Carson was a physician in the last administration cabinet and I don’t believe that helped much. Also, Rand Paul is an MD. The Biden administration will listen to real expert physicians. That is the critical issue.

  • The skill sets of physicians, nurses, and public health professionals and epidemiologists barely overlap anyway. The is a huge gap between those who seek to keep a patient well, and those who seek to keep a country well. So why is this a particular requirement for the cabinet? Is it that important, as no one person has even half of the universe of skills?

    • There are absolutely physicians and nurses who specifically work in public health, who HAVE developed those competencies (often via formal Master’s/doctoral-level training in public health) and consequently have experience both in the care of the individual and community. Not only is it impossible to brush over the vast and varied array of physician/nurse skillsets (which you’re minimizing with your false dichotomy of a “huge gap between those who seek to keep a patient well, and those who seek to keep a country well”), but it’s also offensive that you’d minimize the accomplishments of physicians and nurses who ARE specialists in public health and would be an excellent fit for such a role.

      From ghastly COVID-19 stats or developing-country maternal mortality rates, the US clearly needs qualified providers who have the experience and the proven track record to turn this ailing country around.

  • Could be a good idea…but one also needs to be very careful whom he picks…as well as making it clear that direct contact from other Medical People will be allowed and encouraged, in order to assure a wide spectrum of ideas and facts….rather than just depending one one mind to keep him informed on medical matters.

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