December 16,2020

Press Contact:

Taylor Harvey (202) 224-4515

Wyden Statement on Meeting with HHS Secretary-Designate Xavier Becerra

Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., released a statement today following a phone call with Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary-Designate Xavier Becerra, currently the Attorney General of California:

“This afternoon I had a great conversation with Attorney General Becerra. Our nation is facing an unprecedented health care crisis, and I’m left more confident than ever that Attorney General Becerra is the right person to lead the way in the fight against COVID-19 and continue the essential work of ensuring all Americans can get quality, affordable health care.

“Our conversation focused on the key role Health and Human Services will play in resolving this public health emergency, particularly now that vaccine distribution is getting underway. The Attorney General and I both know that public confidence in a vaccine effort is critical to truly ending the pandemic, and important work is ahead to ensure vaccines are distributed quickly, safely, and equitably. We discussed what efforts HHS can take to help frontline health care workers, as well as seniors in nursing homes and families who still need everyday health care during the pandemic.

“The Attorney General and I also discussed our commitment to ensuring all Americans can get quality, affordable health care for their families. Attorney General Becerra has been a leader in the fight to protect Americans from attacks on affordable health care and pre-existing condition protections, both in court and through legislation, and that experience will help him build on the Affordable Care Act so more families can go to sleep at night without worrying about their medical bills.

“I emphasized my desire for Congress and HHS to work together to address high and unsustainable prescription drug costs and racial health disparities that have plagued our health care system for far too long. Attorney General Becerra and I have both made health care our lodestar while serving in Congress -- I am confident he will use his expertise to help working families, seniors and vulnerable Americans get the health care they count on.

“Attorney General Becerra and I both began our careers supporting Americans who fell on hard times with advocacy and legal aid, and I know that experience continues to guide us in our work every day. I look forward to working with him to ensure the wellbeing of current and former foster youth, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and restore humanity to the treatment of migrant children.

“I concluded by reiterating my commitment to considering Attorney General Becerra’s nomination in the Finance Committee as soon as possible so he can get on the job and start helping people during this unprecedented crisis.”