President Biden’s Initial Health Care Priorities

Published January 25, 2021


On Wednesday, January 20, President Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. In typical presidential fashion, shortly after being sworn in, President Biden issued several executive orders, many of which related directly to health care and, more specifically, the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, as is customary, members of President Trump’s administration, including the heads of HHS and CMS, resigned their positions prior to Biden’s swearing-in.

Biden’s health-related Executive Orders signed on January 21 include:

  • Establishing a COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board: To identify issues and assist in implementation of testing solutions, including establishing a public health workforce plan.
  • Support to Reopen and Continue Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Programs.
  • Worker Health and Safety Protections: Includes potential changes within OSHA and at the state level to better protect workers from COVID-19.
  • Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain: Also directs use of the Defense Production Act to address any shortages.
  • COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force
  • Enhancing COVID-19 Data Collection: Also strengthens public health infrastructure.
  • COVID-19 Travel Restrictions and Safety: Mandates masks on domestic transport and requires negative COVID-19 test and/or quarantine for entry into the US from travel abroad (Biden also re-imposed a ban on many non-US citizens travelling to the US)
  • Improve and Expand Access for COVID-19 Care and Treatments

While President Biden is still working on several of his nominations for new agency leaders, he has announced his nomination of Xavier Becerra, who previously served as California’s Attorney General and as a member of Congress, to lead HHS. He also nominated former Surgeon General Vivek Murth, MD to retake that role and named Rochelle Walensky, MD, currently the chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, as the next director of the CDC. President Biden also said that Anthony Fauci, MD will serve as his chief medical advisor on the COVID-19 pandemic.

AANEM policy staff will continue to keep a close eye on President Biden’s selections for key healthcare leadership positions as the organization begins work to re-introduce its EDX legislation in the new Congressional session.