California Health Consumer Advocates Praise Experience of AG Xavier Becerra as Next Secretary of Health and Human Services

For immediate release: Sunday, December 6, 2020

For more information, contact:

Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, 916-870-4782 (cell)



Becerra’s health record includes Congressional leadership to pass the ACA, and as the lead defender of the law in court as Attorney General;

As AG, Becerra also pushed a pro-active agenda to ensure access to care and control costs, seeking patient protections against interests like prescription drug companies and hospital chains. 

SACRAMENTO, CA – In response to reports that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been selected by President-elect Joe Biden to be the next U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, here’s a comment from Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition:

“Xavier Becerra is an exciting and experienced selection to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. His track record shows he will work to not just undo the damage of the last four years, but to have a pro-active plan to deal with the pandemic and to pursue patient protections and needed reforms going forward.”

“In Congress, Becerra worked in Congress to pass the Affordable Care Act as part of House leadership. Even when other California Congressional leaders like Rep. Waxman, Miller and Stark departed, he continued to be active in the ACA’s implementation. As Attorney General, he took the lead to defend the law all the way to the Supreme Court. Californians have been proud to have Attorney General Becerra as perhaps health care’s greatest defender.”

“His health work has not just been his leadership in passing and defending the ACA. As Attorney General, Becerra has been active in protecting patients and the public interest on key health issues, including tackling major drivers of inflated health costs, from prescription drug prices to hospital consolidation. Becerra has been a champion for reproductive health, LGBTQ care, and immigrant health, opposing the “public charge” regulations that discouraged legal immigrants from getting needed care.”

“Becerra has shown the background and the backbone to stand up to powerful corporate interests in health care, whether prescription drug companies or big hospital chains. He cracked down on ‘pay for delay’ practices that inflated the prices of prescription drugs. Becerra won a nationally important settlement with Sutter Health over anti-competitive practices. While he approved many mergers, he wasn’t afraid to reject a proposed deal that threatened to increase costs while restricting access to care. He stood up to hospitals who tried to wriggle out of charity care requirements. While Becerra was most known for defending health care and many other protections, especially from the Trump Administration’s attacks, but he pursued a pro-active consumer protection agenda as well, including on health cost, quality and equity.”

“As consumer advocates, we were happy to fight alongside him on these tough fights on behalf of patients and the public, including working with him this year to try to expand oversight on hospital takeovers by hedge funds and for-profit chains. The CA AG’s authority was historically wide-ranging but dispersed in different silos, from computer protection to anti-trust law to oversight over charitable nonprofits & assets. Becerra convened a task force within the CA DOJ to focus on health care as a portfolio across silos, recognizing the importance of the issue.”

“In addition to appreciating his values and the victories he has won, it will be great to have a HHS Secretary who knows the complexity and diversity of California, and is proud of the California’s leadership in not just implementing but improving upon the ACA. A son of Sacramento, he represented a Los Angeles district that had one of the highest uninsured rates in the nation. Having a HHS Secretary with such a California experience will help inform his thinking in the equity issues involved in the testing, treatment, and therapeutics to control the COVID-19 crisis, and in considering waivers or permissions for our state to take new steps to expand coverage or otherwise reform our health system.”