Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan Named Acting Secretary

On October 10, 2017, President Trump named recently-confirmed Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Eric D. Hargan as Acting Secretary. According to the White House press release announcing his nomination as Deputy Secretary, Mr. Hargan was a partner in the law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP in its health & Food and Drug Administration business practice, based in Chicago, IL. He earned a B.A. in philosophy from Harvard University, and a J.D. from Columbia University Law School. Mr. Hargan previously served at HHS from 2003-2007 as Deputy General Counsel, as Principal Associate Deputy Secretary, and as Acting Deputy Secretary. In 2014-2015, he served as co-chair and convener of the healthcare and human services transition committee for Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.  In 2016-2017, he served on President Trump’s transition team for HHS.

Acting Assistant Secretary for Health Don Wright had served as Acting Secretary since the September 29 resignation of Secretary Tom Price. Dr. Wright will resume his role as Acting Assistant Secretary for Health (and director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion). It is not clear whether an Acting Deputy Secretary will be named, or whether President Trump will nominate Hagan to assume the Cabinet Secretary role beyond the Acting designation, which would require another Senate confirmation process. On October 4, Hagan was confirmed by the Senate as Deputy Secretary on a vote of 57-38. Democratic Senators Carper, Coons, Donnelly, Durbin, Heitkamp, Manchin, McKaskill, and Independent Senator King joined Republican Senators to confirm Hagan (5 Senators did not vote).

In addition to the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health position, several other Assistant Secretary positions at HHS continue to be held by temporary Acting designations (Financial Resources, Legislation, Planning and Evaluation, and General Counsel), without nominations submitted to the Senate for confirmation. In addition, two operating divisions remain with Acting Administrators (Administration for Children and Families, and Indian Health Service), also without nominations yet submitted.

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