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Could Andrea Palm be the next federal health secretary?

Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 16, 2020

By M.D. Kittle 

MADISON — Conservative senators long urging leadership to schedule a confirmation hearing and send Wisconsin’s controversial health czar packing may not get the chance. 

Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm could be in line for a high-ranking place in the Biden administration — if Sleepy Joe beats back multiple election fraud lawsuits from President Donald Trump’s campaign. Some are even pegging her as a possibility for U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, a cabinet post once held by former Gov. Tommy Thompson in President George W. Bush’s administration. 

Healthcare Dive, an online industry tracker, reported last week that Palm, a former Obama administration health bureaucrat, might just fit the bill for Team Biden. The publication notes Palm among nine “experts” Biden “may look to appoint as Health and Human Services secretary and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator.” 

“Palm is Secretary-designee of Wisconsin’s health department, and previously worked as a senior adviser to the HHS secretary and White House policy adviser under Obama, during the rollout of the ACA (Obamacare). She also served as the chief of staff for HHS from 2013 to 2014,” Healthcare Dive reports. 

“Though the Republican-controlled Wisconsin legislature stalled her official appointment, Palm has been managing the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and enacted strict lockdowns that were later overturned by the Legislature.” Actually, her health order was struck down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. 

She has led DHS very badly, according to some of her most vocal critics. 

Mike Mikalsen, spokesman for Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater), told Wisconsin Spotlight that Palm’s record has been “abysmal.”

Palm and her boss, Gov. Tony Evers, have been scolded by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in a majority ruling that found the health secretary-designee broke state law when she unilaterally extended Evers’ statewide lockdown without the Legislature’s consent. 

DHS, critics say, has failed to be prepared at every turn of the pandemic, from the first outbreak in March to the expected surge now gripping Wisconsin, which has become a hot spot for COVID-19. 

But Palm, a liberal who has pushed tighter restrictions, mask mandates and lockdowns, might be just what Biden is looking for. The Democrat post-Election Day has talked about national lockdowns and mask mandates under his administration’s direction, as he rapidly moves to assert victory.  

Newly elected Senate President Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) told Wisconsin Spotlight last week the Senate Republican Caucus has been discussing Palm’s appointment and what to do next. 

“There have certainly been calls from a number of senators who would like to see her removed,” Kapenga said.

Perhaps Joe Biden will take care of that for them. 

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