HHS Secretary MIA

If you’ve read this blog, then I’m sure you know that Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination for HHS secretary. Some people have suggeste Howard Dean to be a nice replacement for Tom Daschle as HHS secretary, but unless I missed something in the midst of the HITECH act mania nothing’s been officially announced by Obama.

All of this means that HHS is without a secretary to implement the HITECH act along with the $2 billion of discretionary funds, choosing an EHR certification criteria, and defining meaningful EHR use.

I can’t imagine the people at HHS are just sitting on their hands, but I sure wonder what impact not having an HHS secretary will have on Obama’s health care reform.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • I always liked Dean for this job, above all. I never felt Daschle’s proximity to Congress was that important to success in this particular job; I do understand that Obama had and still has a big plan to get through Congress, but I don’t agree that Dean was too “abrasive” for that job.

    Personally, I like “abrasive,” personally, especially when it comes to the obvious long overdue imperatives of getting medical prevention through to Neanderthals and that oblivious junk food eatin’ and aspartame guzzlin’ portion of the exalted American public, and not just perpetuating grandiose
    schemes of Health Care, blah blah blah.

    HHS oversees the FDA which tries to oversee the full 25% of the US Economy that is either food or drugs!

    Daschle’s dashing was no doubt be a sobering blow to Obama and to his staff, particularly Rahm, with whom Dean fought bitterly over the 50 state strategy, and was proven right, of course…I just hope the President and his staff get the message of support for Howard Dean loud and clear, if the obvious merits of giving him the job are still problematic to them.

    What we need is an “abrasive” (not really THAT “abrasive”) DNC Chairman in the Cabinet to balance out all of the Republicans, which I really never ever expected; plus, to boot, both he and his wife are physicians; the nation above all needs a major overhaul in terms more of PREVENTION rather than just more BS on “Health Care.”

    Great Scot! His Medical degree is from Albert Einstein School of Medicine! Who else would you trust with a complete overhaul of the FDA, which has been overdue for about 25 years.

    Stephen Fox, Political and Consumer Editor
    New Mexico Sun News

    [In 1980, Stephen Fox founded New Millennium Fine Art, a Santa Fe gallery specializing in Native American and Landscape, and is very active in New Mexico Legislative consumer protection politics, trying above to get the FDA to rescind its approval for the neurotoxic and carcinogenic artificial sweetener, Aspartame.]

  • Thanks for stopping by Stephen and sharing your thoughts on the HHS secretary choice. I don’t really know Dean from the guy next door. All I know is that even if Obama announces the HHS secretary tomorrow, then it’s still going to take a while for the person to actually become the HHS secretary. That doesn’t bode well for doctors interested in knowing the details that HHS needs to decide as part of the HITECH act.


    p.s. Caps don’t me shouting with me, am just a bit fatigued and lazy, and like to leave the caps key locked.

    Thank you. Do you know the last physician who was HHS Secretary? It was under Reagan, Dr. and former Indiana Governor Bowen! still kicking at 90!

  • Stephen,
    I have a couple posts being published to my blog in the next 2 days that should give you a lot more details on what I’m talking about.

    The basic idea is that the government has planned to invest $18 billion in electronic health records (EHR) in what’s being called the HITECH act. However, they left 2 major decisions to the new HHS secretary. Big problem is that there isn’t an HHS secretary right now, so those 2 big decisions won’t be made. Until the decisions are made and implemented, many doctors are likely to sit back and play the wait and see game before implementing an EHR.

    I’m sure there are many other implications of not having an HHS secretary, but since this blog is most about EHR that’s why I posted about it.

    I did recently read that there hadn’t been an HHS secretary that was a former doctor in a long time. Kind of interesting.

  • Well unless Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius is a Doctor or former Doctor, it looks like quite awhile more for a Doctor to be HHS Secretary, unless she also doesn’t pay her taxes.

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