The Senate health committee by unanimous consent has sent the nomination of National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, M.D., to be assistant secretary of Health and Human Services to the Senate floor for an upcoming vote following the August recess. DeSalvo for several months has been the acting assistant secretary in addition to remaining the ONC leader.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune first reported the story, which was confirmed to HDM by a committee spokeswoman. A vote on DeSalvos nomination is expected when the Senate reconvenes in September.
President Obama in May formally nominated DeSalvo to be Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS, overseeing 12 core public health offices including the Office of the Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, 10 regional health offices nationwide, and 10 presidential and secretarial advisory committees. However, DeSalvo has been serving on an interim basis as Acting Assistant Secretary for Health since October 2014, helping to spearhead the Obama administrations Ebola efforts while continuing her duties at ONC.
DeSalvo remains National Coordinator while she awaits confirmation by the Senate. Should she be confirmedas expectedDeSalvo has promised to continue to be very involved in health IT as HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwells senior public health and medicine advisor despite giving up her ONC post. As Assistant Secretary for Health, she would help develop policy recommendations on public health issues that cut across HHS agencies and operating divisions.
Before joining ONC in January 2014, DeSalvo served as health commissioner for the City of New Orleans and also as senior health policy advisor for New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu from 2011 to 2014. She was also a professor of medicine and vice dean for community affairs and health policy at Tulane University School of Medicine.
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