The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on June 24 to consider several nominees, including Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Legislation (ASL) nominee Melanie Egorin, PhD.
The AAMC supported Dr. Egorin’s nomination in a May 11 letter from AAMC Chief Public Policy Officer Karen Fisher, JD to Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho). The letter highlighted Dr. Egorin’s “distinguished career” in health policy and highlighted her efforts to “increase patient access to health care and improve the health of all.” The letter also noted that Dr. Egorin is “well known for not only being a health policy expert, but also for her ability to work collaboratively – two qualities that are essential for success as the ASL.”
Chairman Ron Wyden opened the hearing by stating that, “There aren’t many people out there who know more about America’s federal health programs than Dr. Egorin does, particularly Medicare.” He also noted that Dr. Egorin’s extensive experience “will be highly valuable as Assistant Secretary.”
Ways and Means Committee Chair Richie Neal (D-Mass.) was present to introduce Dr. Egorin, who most recently served as a top staffer for the House Committee on Ways and Means. Neal stated that Dr. Egorin has “consistently conducted herself with integrity and respect for those who hold different views,” and that these attributes “will serve her well at HHS as she works with individuals on both sizes of the aisle, both maximizing existing relationships and developing new ones.” Neal urged the committee to advance her nomination.
During questioning of the witnesses, Ranking Member Crapo similarly highlighted Dr. Egorin’s reputation for working across the aisle. He also asked her what policies adopted during COVID-19 should be made permanent after the pandemic in an effort to improve the health care system. Dr. Egorin responded by stating that the pandemic has “shown many opportunities for innovation.” She noted the many innovations in how the nation responds to public health crises, and also how to “move forward with telehealth, with understanding regional health care differences, as well as access to care and health equity issues that came to the fore” during the pandemic.
It is expected that the Finance Committee will vote to approve the nominees, followed by consideration by the full Senate.