Mandy Cohen, M.D., comes with credentials that should help her lead the beleaguered agency, criticized for its response to the pandemic
By Physician’s Briefing Staff HealthDay Reporter
FRIDAY, June 16, 2023 (HealthDay News) — The White House announced Friday that a former Obama administration official with extensive experience in federal and state health services will be named the next leader of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Former North Carolina Health Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D., comes with credentials that should help her lead the beleaguered agency, criticized for its response to the pandemic.
“Dr. Cohen is one of the nation’s top physicians and health leaders with experience leading large and complex organizations, and a proven track record protecting Americans’ health and safety,” President Joe Biden said in a news release announcing the appointment. “Her leadership through the COVID-19 crisis drew bipartisan praise, as did her successful transformation of North Carolina’s Medicaid program and pivotal role in the bipartisan passage of Medicaid expansion.”
Cohen, 44, was educated at Yale and Harvard Universities as an internal medicine physician. Her past work also includes working on HIV issues in South Africa and at the Department of Veterans Affairs on women’s health. She also volunteered on the Healthcare.gov repair effort during the Obama years.
Former CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., had nothing but praise for Cohen’s record in public health. “Dr. Cohen is a respected public health leader who helped North Carolina successfully navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and has dedicated her career to improving health outcomes for all Americans,” Walensky said in a statement. “Her unique experience and accomplished tenure in North Carolina — along with her other career contributions — make her perfectly suited to lead CDC as it moves forward by building on the lessons learned from COVID-19 to create an organization poised to meet public health challenges of the future.”
While Walensky was an infectious disease expert who had not worked in government leadership, Cohen was a senior official at the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and North Carolina’s health secretary for nearly five years.
Still, the job Cohen takes on will be a challenging one, including reforming the 13,000-person agency so that it can be more responsive to the next pandemic and communicating public health threats to a divided America.
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