In the early days of the new presidential administration, interim and acting heads of HHS, CMS, and FDA hold the power pending the finalization of the new leaders. Norris Chochran, Dr. Patrick Conway, and Dr. Stephen Ostroff hold their positions after Secretary Burwell, Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt, and Commissioner Robert Califf, stepped down as President Obama handed over the reins to President Trump. These leadership positions are under extreme scrutiny as legislators push for repealing and replacing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148).
Acting HHS Secretary Norris Cochran has served the federal government for two decades, starting at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1996. Cochran is currently the Director of the HHS Office of Budget, overseeing a large staff on budget formulation, execution, and policy, while supporting various budget and financial officials in their duties.
Dr. Patrick Conway is now the acting administrator of CMS, as well as the Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality. In these roles, he oversees Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP), and the marketplaces, while also leading the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ) and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). Conway was previously Director of Hospital Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and served as Chief Medical Officer at the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE).
Dr. Stephen Ostroff, is now serving his second stint as acting Commissioner of Food and Drugs. Before joining the FDA in 2013, in roles involving food safety, nutrition, and veterinary medicine, he served as Deputy Director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases at the CDC. In 2014, he served as the FDA’s Chief Scientist, then was the acting commissioner from April 2015 to February 2016, before serving as the Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine.