On Aug. 6, the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Karen DeSalvo, M.D. for Assistant Secretary for Health inside the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Within the federal government, DeSalvo has been working on multiple fronts: since January 2014, she has been serving as National Coordinator for Health IT and leading the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC); last fall it was announced that she would help lead the Obama administration’s response to a potential outbreak of Ebola; and since President Obama nominated her in May 2015, she has been the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health in HHS.
When it was announced that DeSalvo would help with Ebola, and then again when she was nominated for the HHS post, there was confusion in the health IT industry on what her role would be at ONC. The agency maintained that DeSalvo would continue working on important policy issues at ONC— including remaining chair of the Health IT Policy Committee and leading its Interoperability Roadmap. Nonetheless, during DeSalvo’s time away, ONC appointed Lisa Lewis, chief operating officer, as Acting National Coordinator for Health IT. According to ONC’s website, Lewis’ bio says she is currently Acting National Coordinator.
Now, according to the Senate HELP Committee's website, it will decide on Thursday whether not it will nominate DeSalvo for the Assistant Secretary for Health position at HHS. If the committee approves her nomination, she'll likely get a vote by the full Senate, according to reports.