• October 28th, 2021
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Ready to Build a Stronger, Equitable Nation


Xavier Becerra

 

Editor’s Note: The following are remarks were delivered on Dec. 8, by Xavier Becerra, nominated by President-elect Joe Biden to serve as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services:
Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice President-elect, I am honored and excited to join your team.
The mission of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has never been as vital or as urgent as it is today. The COVID pandemic and its economic fallout have thrust families into crisis. Too many Americans are sick or have lost loved ones. Too many have lost their jobs, and with that, their healthcare and hope.
You have made it clear, Mr. President-elect, that to build back a prosperous América we need a healthy América. That, then, will be Job One for your team at HHS.

Photo: Courtesy Biden Transition Team
Xavier Becerra

Fifty-five years ago, during another time of hardship, former Health Secretary — and fellow Californian — John Gardner said: “What we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems.”
Gardner went on to help President Lyndon Johnson build the Great Society — ushering in Medicare, Medicaid, and Civil Rights that brought greater equity, greater opportunity, and greater hope to all Americans.
Now it is our turn to discover the breathtaking opportunities before us in the midst of hardship and pain. It is our turn to build up and to back up our doctors and medical professionals, our hospitals and clinics, battling the coronavirus; our turn to restore faith and confidence in our leaders to deliver solutions that unite and heal us and inoculate us from fear; our turn to spur our brightest minds to launch the next generation of innovative medicines and cures.
And, it is our turn to build a nation where, as the President-elect so often says, health care is a right — not a privilege.
At HHS, tackling pandemics, saving lives, and keeping us healthy should be our calling card. And we won’t forget that there is a second “H” in HHS…The “human” services — the work we do for our children, seniors, and disabled — they will stand tall in a Biden-Harris HHS.
Almost a year ago, on New Year’s Day, my father Manuel passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family. We got to celebrate Christmas together. And, when the end came, my dad knew we were there with him.
No one should ever have to die alone in a hospital bed, loved ones forced to stay away. That seems so contrary to the values of a great nation — the values that drew my parents, like generations before and after them, to come to América.
Manuel and María Teresa had only their health and hope when they arrived in California. A road construction worker with a sixth-grade education and a clerical worker who arrived in her teens from Guadalajara, Jalisco, México. They built a pretty good partnership that lasted 67 years. Along the way they sent four kids to college and the military. They opened the door for me. I am enormously grateful to them.
Now, President-elect Biden has offered me a breathtaking opportunity to work with his team to shape our healthcare future.

Now it is our turn to discover the breathtaking opportunities before us in the midst of hardship and pain. It is our turn to build up and to back up our doctors and medical professionals, our hospitals and clinics, battling the coronavirus; our turn to restore faith and confidence in our leaders to deliver solutions that unite and heal us and inoculate us from fear; our turn to spur our brightest minds to launch the next generation of innovative medicines and cures.

I share the president-elect and vice-president-elect’s determination to rebuild unity and civility in América. We know it takes hard work. We know we must do it together. We know it will be key to building critical momentum and support for the prevention and treatment of the coronavirus.
Those values and priorities will help us emerge from this pandemic a stronger, more just, and more equitable nation. Literally, there are millions of small business owners and tens of millions of workers who are counting on us.
I am proud to have this chance to implement the president-elect’s vision for a better América through the challenging assignments that are in store for the Department of Health and Human Services.
Mr. President-elect and Madam Vice President-elect, thank you for this opportunity to serve.

 

Xavier Becerra is currently the California Attorney General and has been nominated to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

 

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