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HHS announces additional staff appointees

The new appointees join tens of thousands of career officials during a time when expertise is critical to tackling the ongoing pandemic.

Mallory Hackett, Associate Editor

Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty ImagesPhoto by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services today announced its latest round of appointments under the Biden Administration.

These new appointees join the department at a time when their expertise is needed to end the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, implement President Biden's American Rescue Plan and restore public trust in the nation's health agencies, HHS said in the announcement.

"The growing team at HHS is working tirelessly to end the COVID-19 pandemic and expand access to healthcare through President Biden's American Rescue Plan," said HHS Chief of Staff Sean McCluskie. "These appointees, under the leadership of Secretary Xavier Becerra, bring diversity and years of experience to the crucial mission of ensuring Americans' health and wellbeing."

WHAT'S THE IMPACT

Joining the Office of the Secretary are Cynthia Palafox as director of scheduling and advance, Karuna Seshasai as executive secretary and Alia Schechter as special assistant to the secretary.

Carrie Pugh will serve as director of external affairs for the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs.

Tericka Lambert has been appointed to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs where she will serve as director of digital engagement.

Rose Sullivan will be the new principal deputy assistant secretary for Legislation at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Legislation.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health will gain Arsenio Mataka as the senior advisor for health equity and climate.

Kathryn Wolff is joining the Administration for Children and Families as its senior advisor.

Hannah Katch will be the new senior advisor at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Rounding out the new appointees is Erica Jefferson, who will join the Food and Drug Administration as its associate commissioner for external affairs.

THE LARGER TREND

HHS has previously made several rounds of appointee announcements as it works to fill out the department.

The Senate last month confirmed HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra's nomination in a 50-49 vote along party lines, with only GOP Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, voting in favor of confirmation.

Meanwhile, Biden's pick for Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure is still awaiting nomination confirmation after the Senate Finance Committee voted along party lines last week, sending the decision to a full Senate vote.

Other notable picks include Susan Orsega as acting surgeon general and Elizabeth Fowler as director and deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

The Food and Drug Administration is also still without a permanent commissioner even after six former FDA commissioners sent President Biden a letter urging him to announce his nomination.

Twitter: @HackettMallory
Email the writer: mhackett@himss.org