Who is the new acting head of the department of Health and Human Services? October 10, 2017
On September 29, 2017, Tom Price resigned his position as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) amid controversies regarding his use of private, chartered flights for business use. His successor, for the immediate term at least, is Don Wright, who had been the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS since February 10, 2017. The resignation and transition to a new acting secretary may concern independent physicians who are unfamiliar with Mr. Wright.
Wright is actually a family physician himself. He served as director of the Office of Occupational Medicine for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) from 2003 to 2007. He began his career at HHS in 2007 as the HHS Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health. During this tenure, President George W. Bush appointed Wright to serve as the alternate U.S. delegate to the World Health Organization Executive Board.
USA Today reports that Wright’s public service career “has focused broadly on public health, occupational health and health policy, as well as health care quality, disease prevention and health promotion.” Prior to his career in the federal government, however, Wright was a physician focused on family medicine and occupational health in Texas and is board certified in the areas of family medicine and preventive medicine.
His education includes an undergraduate degree from Texas Tech University, a medical degree from the University of Texas, and a master’s degree in public health from the Medical College of Wisconsin. He completed his family medicine residency training at Baylor College of Medicine. He is a fellow of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
As to his current position, Wright says that he looks “forward to ensuring that the important work of the Department in support of the President’s agenda continues to move forward during this interim period.”