United States Secretary of Health and Human Services
Seal of the Department
Flag of the Secretary
Incumbent
Xavier Becerra

since March 19, 2021
United States Department of Health and Human Services
StyleMr. Secretary
(informal)
The Honorable
(formal)
Member ofCabinet
Reports toPresident of the United States
SeatHubert H. Humphrey Building, Washington, D.C.
AppointerPresident of the United States
with Senate advice and consent
Term lengthNo fixed term
Constituting instrumentReorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953
67 Stat. 631
42 U.S.C. § 3501
PrecursorSecretary of Health, Education, and Welfare
FormationMay 4, 1980
First holderPatricia Roberts Harris
SuccessionTwelfth[1]
DeputyDeputy Secretary of Health and Human Services
SalaryExecutive Schedule, Level I
Websitewww.hhs.gov

The United States secretary of health and human services is the head of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and serves as the principal advisor to the president of the United States on all health matters. The secretary is a member of the United States Cabinet. The office was formerly Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. In 1980, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was renamed the Department of Health and Human Services, and its education functions and Rehabilitation Services Administration were transferred to the new United States Department of Education.[2] Patricia Roberts Harris headed the department before and after it was renamed.[3]

Nominations to the office of Secretary of HHS are referred to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the United States Senate Committee on Finance, which has jurisdiction over Medicare and Medicaid,[4] before confirmation is considered by the full United States Senate.

Secretary of Health and Human Services is a Level I position in the Executive Schedule,[5] thus earning a salary of US$221,400, as of January 2021.[6]

Xavier Becerra has served as the 25th United States secretary of health and human services since March 19, 2021, the first person of Hispanic descent to hold the post.

Duties

The flag of the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, the predecessor to the current office.
The flag of the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, the predecessor to the current office.

The duties of the secretary revolve around human conditions and concerns in the United States. This includes advising the president on matters of health, welfare, and income security programs. The secretary strives to administer the Department of Health and Human Services to carry out approved programs and make the public aware of the objectives of the department.[7]

The Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) was reorganized into a Department of Education and a Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS).

The Department of Health and Human Services oversees 11 agencies including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).[8]

List of secretaries

Parties

  Democratic (9)   Republican (15)   Independent (1)

Status

  Denotes acting HHS Secretary

  Nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services

Health, education, and welfare[edit]

No. Portrait Name State of residence Took office Left office President(s)
1
Oveta Culp Hobby Texas April 11, 1953 July 31, 1955 Dwight D. Eisenhower
2
Marion B. Folsom New York August 2, 1955 July 31, 1958
3
Arthur S. Flemming Ohio August 1, 1958 January 19, 1961
4
Abraham A. Ribicoff Connecticut January 21, 1961 July 13, 1962 John F. Kennedy
5
Anthony J. Celebrezze Ohio July 31, 1962 August 17, 1965
Lyndon B. Johnson
6
John W. Gardner California August 18, 1965 March 1, 1968
7
Wilbur J. Cohen Michigan May 16, 1968 January 20, 1969
8
Robert H. Finch California January 21, 1969 June 23, 1970 Richard Nixon
9
Elliot L. Richardson Massachusetts June 24, 1970 January 29, 1973
10
Caspar Weinberger California February 12, 1973 August 8, 1975
Gerald Ford
11
F. David Mathews Alabama August 8, 1975 January 20, 1977
12
Joseph A. Califano Jr. District of Columbia January 25, 1977 August 3, 1979 Jimmy Carter
13
Patricia Roberts Harris District of Columbia August 3, 1979 May 4, 1980[9]

Health and human services[edit]

No. Portrait Name State of residence Took office Left office President(s)
13
Patricia Roberts Harris District of Columbia May 4, 1980[9] January 20, 1981 Jimmy Carter
14
Richard S. Schweiker Pennsylvania January 22, 1981 February 3, 1983 Ronald Reagan
Speedy Long Louisiana February 3, 1983 March 9, 1983
15
Margaret M. Heckler Massachusetts March 9, 1983 December 13, 1985
16
Otis R. Bowen Indiana December 13, 1985 March 1, 1989
17
Louis Wade Sullivan Georgia March 1, 1989 January 20, 1993 George H. W. Bush
18
Donna Shalala Wisconsin January 22, 1993 January 20, 2001 Bill Clinton
19
Tommy G. Thompson Wisconsin February 2, 2001 January 26, 2005 George W. Bush
20
Michael O. Leavitt Utah January 26, 2005 January 20, 2009
Charles E. Johnson Utah January 20, 2009 April 28, 2009 Barack Obama
21
Kathleen Sebelius Kansas April 28, 2009 June 9, 2014
22
Sylvia Mathews Burwell West Virginia June 9, 2014 January 20, 2017
Norris Cochran Florida January 20, 2017 February 10, 2017 Donald Trump
23
Tom Price Georgia February 10, 2017 September 29, 2017
Don J. Wright Virginia September 29, 2017 October 10, 2017
Eric Hargan Illinois October 10, 2017 January 29, 2018
24
Alex Azar Indiana January 29, 2018 January 20, 2021
Norris Cochran Florida January 20, 2021 March 19, 2021 Joe Biden
25
Xavier Becerra California March 19, 2021 Incumbent

Line of succession

The line of succession for the Secretary of Health and Human Services is as follows:[10]

  1. Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services.
  2. General Counsel of the Department of Health and Human Services
  3. Assistant Secretary for Administration
  4. Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
  5. Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  6. Commissioner of Food and Drugs
  7. Director of the National Institutes of Health
  8. Assistant Secretary for Children and Families
  9. Other Assistant Secretaries (following in the order they took the oath of office)
    1. Assistant Secretary for Health
    2. Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
    3. Assistant Secretary for Legislation
    4. Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
    5. Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources
    6. Assistant Secretary for Aging
  10. Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  11. Director, Region 4 (Atlanta, Georgia)

Living former secretaries

See also: List of living former members of the United States Cabinet

Health, education, and welfare

As of June 2021, there are two living former secretaries of health, education and welfare, the older being Joseph A. Califano Jr. (served 1977–1979, born 1931). The most recent secretary of health, education and welfare to die was Caspar Weinberger (served 1973–1975, born 1917), on March 28, 2006. The most recently serving secretary to die was Patricia Roberts Harris (served 1979–1980, born 1924) on March 23, 1985.

Name Term Date of birth (and age)
F. David Mathews 1975–1977 (1935-12-06) December 6, 1935 (age 85)
Joseph A. Califano Jr. 1977–1979 (1931-05-15) May 15, 1931 (age 90)

Health and human services

A gathering of five secretaries in June 2015
A gathering of five secretaries in June 2015

As of June 2021, there are eight living former secretaries of health and human services, the oldest being Louis W. Sullivan (served 1989–1993, born 1933); The most recent secretary of health and human services to die was Margaret Heckler (served 1983–1985, born 1931), on August 6, 2018. The most recently serving secretary to die was Otis R. Bowen (served 1985–1989) on May 4, 2013.

Name Term Date of birth (and age)
Louis W. Sullivan 1989–1993 (1933-11-03) November 3, 1933 (age 87)
Donna Shalala 1993–2001 (1941-02-14) February 14, 1941 (age 80)
Tommy Thompson 2001–2005 (1941-11-19) November 19, 1941 (age 79)
Mike Leavitt 2005–2009 (1951-02-11) February 11, 1951 (age 70)
Kathleen Sebelius 2009–2014 (1948-05-15) May 15, 1948 (age 73)
Sylvia Mathews Burwell 2014–2017 (1965-06-23) June 23, 1965 (age 55)
Tom Price 2017 (1954-10-08) October 8, 1954 (age 66)
Alex Azar 2018–2021 (1967-06-17) June 17, 1967 (age 53)

References

  1. ^ "3 U.S. Code § 19 - Vacancy in offices of both President and Vice President; officers eligible to act". LII / Legal Information Institute. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  2. ^ Holbrook, M. Cay (February 6, 2017). Foundations of Education: History and theory of teaching children and youths with visual impairments. American Foundation for the Blind. ISBN 9780891283409.
  3. ^ "Patricia R. Harris (1977–1979)—Miller Center". millercenter.org. Archived from the original on February 7, 2017. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
  4. ^ "Jurisdiction | The United States Senate Committee on Finance". finance.senate.gov. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
  5. ^ 5 U.S.C. § 5312
  6. ^ "Salary Table No. 2021-EX Rates of Basic Pay for the Executive Schedule (EX)" (PDF).
  7. ^ "The President's Cabinet". Ben's Guide. February 1, 2007. Retrieved November 15, 2007.
  8. ^ "HHS Agencies & Offices | HHS.gov". Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Harris was Secretary on May 4, 1980, when the office changed names from Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to Secretary of Health and Human Services. Because the department merely changed names, she did not need to be confirmed again, and her term continued uninterrupted.
  10. ^ "Providing an Order of Succession Within the Department of Health and Human Services". Federal Register. February 20, 2008. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Marty Walsh
as Secretary of Labor
Order of precedence of the United States
as Secretary of Health and Human Services
Succeeded by
Marcia Fudge
as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
U.S. presidential line of succession
Preceded by
Secretary of Labor
Marty Walsh
12th in line Succeeded by
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Marcia Fudge