HHS Vacancy Stalls Health Agenda, Advocates Say

February 17, 2009
by Ceci Connolly
Washington Post

When Thomas A. Daschle, embroiled in controversy over failing to pay more than $100,000 in back taxes, stepped down two weeks ago as director of the White House Office on Health Reform and withdrew his nomination to be secretary of health and human services, it left a gaping hole in President Obama's leadership team, one that health-care advocates say has stalled what they hoped would be speedy action on high-priority measures...

Not only does the department lack a secretary, but Obama has yet to nominate anyone to run critical agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention...

"Career people can keep things running, but there is tremendous eagerness to know what direction they are going in," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director at the nonprofit, nonpartisan Trust for America's Health. Workers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expect to shift course on projects such as sex education and prevention but have not received specific guidance.

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