President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for secretary of health and human services, Xavier Becerra, has previously supported transitioning to a single-payer system – and if approved for the new Cabinet role he would be able to advance that policy if he wanted.
Becerra said in a 2017 interview with Fox News that he “absolutely” supports Medicare-for-All and had done so for all 24 years.
“As attorney general, I would fight for that if we had an opportunity to put that forward in the state of California because I think what we do is we give people that certainty that they’re going to be able to access a doctor or a hospital,” Becerra said at the time.
New York Times investigative reporter Sarah Kliff pointed out that, if confirmed, Becerra’s position would give him the authority to grant waivers to states to allow them to set up a single-payer system – or expand the public option – via the Affordable Care Act.
Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., made similar comments when he lauded Biden’s decision to tap the former California lawmaker.
However, Becerra is also a proponent of the Affordable Care Act – saying in a June briefing that the system has been “life-changing,” specifically during the pandemic, as reported by the Times. A source told the publication that Becerra would be on board with helping to protect and strengthen the health care law – which is Biden’s stated goal.
The president-elect has said he does not support Medicare-for-All.
Biden announced on Monday Becerra’s nomination, which was considered somewhat of a surprise.
Before becoming attorney general in California, Becerra served 12 terms in Congress and he succeeded Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the state’s attorney general.
If confirmed by the Senate, he would be the first Latino to run the department.