By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR
WASHINGTON (AP) — Health secretary nominee Xavier Becerra told senators Tuesday that confronting the coronavirus pandemic will be his first priority if confirmed, but he also pledged to expand health insurance, rein in prescription drug costs and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in medical care.
“To meet this moment, we need strong federal leadership,” Becerra said at the first of two hearings on his nomination. “I understand the enormous challenges before us and our solemn responsibility to faithfully steward this agency that touches almost every aspect of our lives.”
Becerra now serves as California’s attorney general and previously represented the Los Angeles area for more than 20 years in the U.S. House. A liberal politician-lawyer, he faces opposition from many GOP senators, who question his support for abortion rights and government-run health insurance, along with his lack of a clinical background. However, in the past 25 years only one medical doctor has led the Department of Health and Human Services in a permanent capacity.
Appearing before the Senate health committee, Becerra seconded President Joe Biden’s goals of 100 million vaccine shots in his first 100 days, increased coronavirus testing, ramped up DNA mapping of the virus to track worrisome mutations and reopening schools and businesses.
On health insurance, he pledged to work to expand the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, although in the past he’s supported a government-run system like Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” idea. He pledged action to lower drug prices, particularly the cost of insulin. It’s an idea that has bipartisan backing. Republican Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana noted that Becerra seems to have no drug industry support, adding “I think I know why.”
Although leading Republicans are portraying Becerra as unfit, Democrats seem unfazed about his prospects, accusing the GOP of playing politics despite the urgency of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
Following Tuesday’s appearance before the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, Becerra will be questioned Wednesday by the Finance Committee, which will vote on sending his nomination to the Senate floor. If confirmed, he’d be the first Latino to head HHS, a $1.4 trillion agency with a broad portfolio that includes health insurance programs, drug safety and approvals, advanced medical research and the welfare of children.
Ranking health committee Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina left no doubt Becerra faces a tough scrutiny from the GOP.
“I’m not sold yet,” Burr said at Tuesday’s hearing, looking straight at the nominee. “I’m not sure that you have the necessary experience or skills to do this job at this moment.” Burr questioned whether Becerra respects the role of private companies in the health care system, particularly innovative pharmaceutical firms.
But other Republican senators sidestepped ideological confrontation and asked questions that centered on home state concerns. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala. made a reference to “when” Becerra is confirmed, not “if.”
Becerra sought to soften his image as an enemy of drug companies. “We need the pharmaceutical industry in America to always feel like we’ve got their back to innovate,” he told Sen. Chris Murphy, …read more
Source:: Los Angeles Daily News
Dustin Johnson highlights | Round 3 | Genesis | 2021
In the third round of The Genesis Invitational 2021, Dustin Johnson recorded three birdies against 3 bogeys to remain even through 13 holes before play was suspended due to darkness. Johnson is 7-under-par for the tournament. The PGA TOUR returns to iconic Riviera Country Club for The Genesis Invitational. Tournament host Tiger Woods will be in attendance but won’t play as he is still recovering from a back procedure last month. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and defending champion Adam Scott are among the headliners. Notables in the invitation-only field include major champions Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth, and Francesco Molinari, plus world No. 2 Jon Rahm. Two-time FedExCup winner Rory McIlroy looks to finally lift the trophy at Riviera after holding a piece of the lead Sunday a year ago only to fall to T5. In addition to reigning champ Johnson, FedExCup winners in the field include Justin Thomas, Brandt Snedeker, and Jim Furyk. Here you can find everything you need to stay up to date with the world’s foremost golf tour. Check in for highlights from every tournament plus player profiles, swing analysis and all the greatest shots and amazing moments. Teryn Gregson presents the craziest moments from around the world of golf in ‘Good, Bad & Unusual'.