Harkin, Chair of HELP Committee, Applauds Senate Approval of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to Serve as Next U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today applauded the confirmation of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to serve as the next U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Senate confirmed her nomination by a vote of 78 to 17. The HELP Committee held the Senate’s first hearing for Burwell on May 8.

“Through a dynamic career in both public service and private sector leadership, Sylvia Burwell has proven herself as an effective manager with experience and skill in leading a wide range of organizations. During her confirmation hearing in the HELP Committee last month, she garnered strong support from Members on both sides of the aisle.

“The United States faces serious public health challenges, many of which require urgent answers. Very often, the entire world looks to HHS for leadership. Just last month, this country confronted the first ever incident of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) within our borders. HHS responded quickly to educate the public, investigate the situation, and develop a path forward. We will count on our next Secretary for exactly that kind of informed, decisive action in the face of future challenges and crises, and to provide a steady hand overseeing an incredible range of activities across the Department.

“As Secretary, Ms. Burwell will also be in charge of a long-time priority of mine, disease prevention. She will lead our nation's efforts to transform our health care system from a ‘sick care system’ into one that focuses on wellness and prevention, not just at the doctor’s office but also in our schools, workplaces, and communities.

“Of course, Ms. Burwell will have the critical role of overseeing implementation of the Affordable Care Act. We can be proud that, thanks to the ACA, we have seen over 6 million new Medicaid enrollees, and more than 8 million more Americans have signed up for health insurance in the Marketplaces.  But there is more work to be done to continue successfully implementing the law and reforming our health care system.

“As Secretary, Ms. Burwell will shoulder incredibly important responsibilities that matter deeply to the health and wellness of the American people. I have no doubt that Ms. Burwell is up for the challenge and I am pleased that she has been confirmed as our next HHS Secretary. I look forward to working with her as she begins the important work of advancing our nation’s health.”