The White House recently announced names for two of the nation’s top public health posts.
For the position of U.S. Surgeon General, the President has nominated Dr. Jerome Adams, a state health commissioner from Indiana who was appointed to his post in 2014 by then-Governor Mike Pence. Adams is a trained anesthesiologist and is known to be a vocal advocate for addressing the opioid epidemic in his home state. As Indiana’s health commissioner, he led efforts to expand access to Naloxone, which is used as an antidote for overdoses. In addition to drug addiction issues, Adams focused on decreasing tobacco usage and bringing down Indiana’s infant mortality rate.
Dr. Adams’ nomination will be subject to a simple majority vote in the U.S. Senate. If confirmed, he will be the second Indiana health official with ties to Vice President Pence to join the Trump administration. The current administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Seema Verma, helped design then-Governor Pence’s Medicaid expansion in Indiana under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The Surgeon General is responsible for spearheading national health campaigns, providing the public with sound health and safety recommendations, and offering input on health policy decision-making. The Office of the Surgeon General is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
For the role of Director to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HHS Secretary Price has tapped Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. Prior to her appointment in the Trump administration, Dr. Fitzgerald practiced as an obstetrician-gynecologist and managed Georgia’s 18 public health districts. Previously, she worked in the offices of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator Paul Coverdell on healthcare policy.
Dr. Fitzgerald’s appointment does not require Senate confirmation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plays an important role in ensuring the well-being of county residents. The CDC partners with state and local affiliates to monitor outbreaks and infections, maintain national health data, and improve preparedness for health emergencies such as Zika and HIV. At a time when city and county public health departments are facing multiple challenges, strong federal-state-local partnerships are critical to ensuring that counties can develop and deploy the resources needed to ensure the well-being of our residents.
NACo will continue to monitor these presidential appointments and work with our federal partners to ensure that county interests are represented in public health policymaking.