The United States Secretary of Health and Human Services is the head of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, concerned with health matters. The Secretary is a member of the President's Cabinet. The office was formerly Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare.
In 1980, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was renamed the Department of Health and Human Services, and its education functions and Rehabilitation Services Administration were transferred to the new Department of Education. Patricia Roberts Harris headed the department before and after it was renamed.
Nominations to the office of Secretary of HHS are referred to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicare and Medicaid, before confirmation is considered by the full United States Senate.
Donald Trump selected then-Congressman Tom Price to be the 23rd Secretary of the Health and Human Services Department. Price was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on February 10, 2017 and resigned on September 29, 2017. Trump then named Don J. Wright, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, as acting Secretary until Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan was sworn in on October 10, 2017. On November 13, 2017, Trump nominated former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar to fill the position permanently. Azar's confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee took place on January 9, 2018, and on January 24, 2018, Azar was confirmed by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 55 to 43. Azar was sworn in on January 29, 2018.
|United States Secretary of Health and Human Services|
Seal of the Department
Flag of the Secretary
since January 29, 2018
|United States Department of Health and Human Services|
|Reports to||President of the United States|
|Seat||Hubert H. Humphrey Building, Washington, D.C.|
with Senate advice and consent
|Term length||No fixed term|
|Constituting instrument||Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953|
67 Stat. 631
42 U.S.C. § 3501
|Precursor||Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare|
|Formation||August 3, 1979|
|First holder||Patricia Roberts Harris|
|Deputy||Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services|
|Salary||Executive Schedule, level I|
The duties of the secretary revolve around human conditions and concerns in the United States. This includes advising the president on matters of health, welfare, and income security programs. The Secretary strives to administer the Department of Health and Human Services to carry out approved programs and make the public aware of the objectives of the department.
The Department of Health and Human Services oversees 11 agencies including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Secretaries of Health, Education, and Welfare
|No.||Portrait||Name||State of residence||Took office||Left office||President(s)|
|1||Oveta Culp Hobby||Texas||April 11, 1953||July 31, 1955||Dwight D. Eisenhower|
|2||Marion B. Folsom||New York||August 2, 1955||July 31, 1958|
|3||Arthur S. Flemming||Ohio||August 1, 1958||January 19, 1961|
|4||Abraham A. Ribicoff||Connecticut||January 21, 1961||July 13, 1962||John F. Kennedy|
|5||Anthony J. Celebrezze||Ohio||July 31, 1962||August 17, 1965|
|Lyndon B. Johnson|
|6||John W. Gardner||California||August 18, 1965||March 1, 1968|
|7||Wilbur J. Cohen||Michigan||May 16, 1968||January 20, 1969|
|8||Robert H. Finch||California||January 21, 1969||June 23, 1970||Richard Nixon|
|9||Elliot L. Richardson||Massachusetts||June 24, 1970||January 29, 1973|
|10||Caspar W. Weinberger||California||February 12, 1973||August 8, 1975|
|11||F. David Mathews||Alabama||August 8, 1975||January 20, 1977|
|12||Joseph A. Califano Jr.||District of Columbia||January 25, 1977||August 3, 1979||Jimmy Carter|
|13||Patricia Roberts Harris||District of Columbia||August 3, 1979||May 4, 1980|
Secretaries of Health and Human Services
|No.||Portrait||Name||State of Residence||Took office||Left office||President(s)|
|13||Patricia Roberts Harris||District of Columbia||May 4, 1980||January 20, 1981||Jimmy Carter|
|14||Richard S. Schweiker||Pennsylvania||January 22, 1981||February 3, 1983||Ronald Reagan|
|15||Margaret M. Heckler||Massachusetts||March 9, 1983||December 13, 1985|
|16||Otis R. Bowen||Indiana||December 13, 1985||January 20, 1989|
|17||Louis Wade Sullivan||Georgia||March 1, 1989||January 20, 1993||George H. W. Bush|
|18||Donna Shalala||Wisconsin||January 22, 1993||January 20, 2001||Bill Clinton|
|19||Tommy G. Thompson||Wisconsin||February 2, 2001||January 26, 2005||George W. Bush|
|20||Michael O. Leavitt||Utah||January 26, 2005||January 20, 2009|
|–||Charles E. Johnson||Utah||January 20, 2009||April 28, 2009||Barack Obama|
|21||Kathleen Sebelius||Kansas||April 28, 2009||June 9, 2014|
|22||Sylvia Mathews Burwell||District of Columbia||June 9, 2014||January 20, 2017|
|–||Norris Cochran||January 20, 2017||February 10, 2017||Donald Trump|
|23||Tom Price||Georgia||February 10, 2017||September 29, 2017|
|–||Don J. Wright||Virginia||September 29, 2017||October 10, 2017|
|–||Eric Hargan||Illinois||October 10, 2017||January 29, 2018|
|24||Alex Azar||Indiana||January 29, 2018||Incumbent|
The line of succession for the Secretary of Health and Human Services is as follows:
As of January 2019, there are two living former Secretaries of Health, Education and Welfare, the older being Joseph A. Califano Jr. (served 1977–1979, born 1931). The most recent Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare to die was Caspar Weinberger (served 1973–1975, born 1917), on March 28, 2006. The most recently serving Secretary to die was Patricia Roberts Harris (served 1979–1980, born 1924) on March 23, 1985.
|Name||Term||Date of birth (and age)|
|F. David Mathews||1975–1977||December 6, 1935|
|Joseph A. Califano Jr.||1977–1979||May 15, 1931|
As of January 2019, there are seven living former Secretaries of Health and Human Services, the oldest being Louis W. Sullivan (served 1989–1993, born 1933); The most recent Secretary of Health and Human Services to die was Margaret Heckler (served 1983–1985, born 1931), on August 6, 2018. The most recently serving Secretary to die was Otis R. Bowen (served 1985–1989, born 1918) on May 4, 2013.
|Name||Term||Date of birth (and age)|
|Louis W. Sullivan||1989–1993||November 3, 1933|
|Donna Shalala||1993–2001||February 14, 1941|
|Tommy Thompson||2001–2005||November 19, 1941|
|Mike Leavitt||2005–2009||February 11, 1951|
|Kathleen Sebelius||2009–2014||May 15, 1948|
|Sylvia Mathews Burwell||2014–2017||June 23, 1965|
|Tom Price||2017||October 8, 1954|
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
as Secretary of Labor
| Order of Precedence of the United States
as Secretary of Health and Human Services
as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
|U.S. presidential line of succession|
Secretary of Labor
|12th in line||Succeeded by|
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
The 2010 Kansas gubernatorial election was held on November 2, 2010. Incumbent Governor Mark Parkinson, who assumed office when previous Governor Kathleen Sebelius was sworn in as the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services on April 28, 2009, declined to seek election to a full term. United States Senator Sam Brownback, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2008, emerged as the Republican nominee, facing off against Democratic State Senator Tom Holland, who was unopposed for his party's nomination. Owing to the large amount of popularity that he had accumulated during his tenure in the United States Senate, Brownback defeated Holland in a landslide to become the 46th Governor of Kansas.Alex Azar
Alex Michael Azar II ( born June 17, 1967) is an American politician, lawyer, pharmaceutical lobbyist and former drug company executive who is the current United States Secretary of Health and Human Services. Azar was nominated by President Donald Trump on November 13, 2017 and confirmed by the United States Senate on January 24, 2018. He was formerly the United States Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services under George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007.From 2012 to 2017, Azar was President of the U.S. division of Eli Lilly and Company, a major pharmaceutical drug company, and was a member of the board of directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a pharmaceutical lobby.Azar v. Garza
Garza v. Hargan (Azar v. Garza after Alex Azar's confirmation as United States Secretary of Health and Human Services) is a case before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit regarding a juvenile undocumented immigrant in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement who seeks to have an abortion.Charles E. Johnson (government official)
Charles Edwin Johnson served as Acting United States Secretary of Health and Human Services from January to April 2009 during the Obama presidency. Johnson was appointed by then President George W. Bush in 2005 as Assistant Secretary for Budget, Technology, and Finance. He was a public accountant for 31 years prior to joining the department.Don J. Wright
Don J. Wright is an American physician and government official.
Wright served as the acting United States Secretary of Health and Human Services for twelve days in 2017. He was designated by President Donald Trump after his predecessor, Tom Price, resigned on September 29, 2017, amid a charter-flight scandal. Wright was replaced as acting Secretary by newly-confirmed Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan on October 10, 2017.Donna Shalala
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Eric David Hargan (born June 3, 1968) is an American lawyer and government official who served as the United States Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services from October 6, 2017 to January 29, 2018. A member of the Republican Party, Hargan previously acted in this role in 2007 under the George W. Bush administration.
On October 10, 2017, President Donald Trump appointed Hargan as acting United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, which he held until January 29, 2018, when Alex Azar assumed the office.Health minister
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Sylvia Mary Mathews Burwell (born June 23, 1965) is an American government and non-profit executive, who is the 15th president of American University since June 1, 2017. She is the first woman to serve as the university's president. She earlier served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Health and Human Services. President Barack Obama nominated Burwell on April 11, 2014. Burwell's nomination was confirmed by the Senate on June 5, 2014, by a vote of 78–17. She served as Secretary until the end of the Obama administration. Previously, she had been the Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget from 2013 to 2014.
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