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HHS Transition Team Leaders Named

By John Reichard, CQ HealthBeat Editor

November 14, 2008 -- One former House staffer and one former Clinton administration official became the latest to be tapped Friday to manage the Obama administration's transition activities for the Department of Health and Human Services.

William V. Corr, a proponent of tough Food and Drug Administration regulation and a former staffer for California Democrat Henry A. Waxman — when he ran the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce panel in the 1980s — was named an "agency review team leader."

Also named was Nicole Lurie, who served as principal deputy assistant secretary for health in the last two years of the Clinton administration. Lurie is an expert on public health and health care disparities and has written on bioterrorism preparedness issues. She is now with the Rand Corporation, a think tank that analyzes a variety of policy issues.

Lurie holds two titles at Rand: director of the Center for Population Health and Health Disparities and director for Public Health Preparedness and Infrastructure. Before joining Rand she was a professor of medicine and public health at the University of Minnesota. She also held the post of medical adviser to the commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Health.

Corr now serves as executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which espouses FDA regulation of the tobacco industry. From 1998 to 2000, he served as chief counsel and policy director for Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. (1987–2005). Before that he was chief of staff to HHS Secretary Donna Shalala.

Under Waxman, Corr handled FDA issues as well as those relating to access to health care. His work included the landmark 1984 legislation authorizing FDA approval of a wide variety of generic drugs. A graduate of Vanderbilt University's law school, Corr formed and directed primary care clinics in Tennessee and Kentucky in the mid-1970s.

The agency-specific transition managers announced Friday will develop information "needed to make strategic policy, budgetary, and personnel decisions prior to the inauguration," the Obama-Biden transition team said. "The teams will begin their efforts today, and will ensure that senior appointees have the information necessary to complete the confirmation process, lead their departments, and begin implementing signature policy initiatives immediately after they are sworn in," according to a transition team memo.

Overseeing transition activities for the departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and Housing and Urban Development is Tom Perez, currently secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. He held various civil rights posts at the Justice Department during the Clinton administration and was director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS under Shalala. From 2001 until last year, he was an assistant professor of law at the University of Maryland. He currently is an adjunct faculty member at the George Washington School of Public Health.

Named as a transition leader for bioethics issue was Jonathan D. Moreno, professor of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also a visiting professor of biomedical ethics at the University of Virginia.

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