President Biden is bringing a number of 340B policy experts on board to his team. Yesterday, he formally nominated Andrea Palm, most recently Wisconsin’s health secretary-designate, to be U.S. Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Palm would be the number two official at HHS, ranking behind Xavier Becerra if he is confirmed for the number one job. Becerra’s nomination is being considered by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee today and by the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday.
The administration told reporters in mid-January that it planned to nominate Palm for the HHS post. Tony Evers, Wisconsin’s Democratic Governor nominated Palm to be the state health secretary in January 2019, but the Republican controlled state Senate had blocked her nomination from coming to a vote. She performed her duties pending confirmation.
Palm previously has served as a legislative assistant to Rep. Bob Matsui (D-Calif.); as health care policy adviser to then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.); as Deputy Assistant HHS Secretary for Legislation during the Obama administration; as policy advisor to the Obama White House Domestic Policy Council; and as advisor to the Assistant HHS Secretary and HHS Chief of Staff, also under Obama. Palm has a deep understanding of 340B matters from her time in Washington, D.C., and was often the lead official that 340B stakeholders met with to make their case with the Obama administration.
Meanwhile, Rachel Pryor and Elizabeth Fowler—veteran federal health policy experts with strong Democratic ties—are going to work for the Biden administration, news organizations report.
Health care policy newsletter Politico Pulse reports that Pryor will be named a Counselor in the Office of the HHS Secretary on Medicaid issues. The Biden administration announced about two dozen such HHS and sub-departmental staff appointments on Feb. 16, but Pryor’s was not among them.
Pryor is currently Deputy Director of Administration at the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, focusing largely on Medicaid. During the mid to late 2010s, she was Senior Health Care Policy Adviser to Democrats on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, where she managed 340B issues. Pryor helped steer the E&C Democratic response to various efforts by the committee’s Republican majority leadership to narrow 340B’s scope or raise questions about the program. She has also worked for a number of Democratic U.S. senators. Pryor came to Capitol Hill after working for health system Ascension Health, one of the nation’s largest 340B hospital systems. Prior to that time, she worked at the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
In addition, President Biden reportedly is set to name Fowler, now Executive Vice President for Programs at the Commonwealth Fund, as the Director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). Created under the Affordable Care Act, CMMI tests new ways to deliver Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program services. Although some news and advocacy organization report that Fowler’s appointment has already happened, there had been no official announcement as of late yesterday from the White House, CMS, or HHS.
Before joining the Commonwealth Fund, Fowler served as Vice President for Global Health Policy at drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. Part of her portfolio there was U.S. health care payment reform. Before that, Fowler held senior health care advisory positions in the Obama administration at the White House National Economic Council and HHS. During her time in the Obama administration, Fowler also regularly met with 340B stakeholders. Prior to her work for Obama, she played a major role in writing the ACA as Chief Health Counsel to Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.).