Mary Wakefield has been nominated to permanently serve as HHS deputy secretary, a position she's held in an acting capacity for the past four months.
The White House announced the nomination late Thursday, along with the nomination of Andy Slavitt as CMS administrator. For the past five years, Wakefield had served as head of the Health Resources and Service Administration, an HHS agency that works to improve access to healthcare for Americans who are uninsured, isolated, low-income or medically vulnerable.
Wakefield ">replaced Bill Coor
">replaced Bill Coor, who left HHS in April. Before working at HRSA, Wakefield was the associate dean for rural health at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Prior to that, she was director of the Center for Health Policy, Research and Ethics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and also served as chief of staff for former U.S. Sens. Kent Conrad and Quentin Burdick, both of North Dakota.
Upon her appointment, Wakefield, a registered nurse and who holds a doctorate, became one of the highest-ranking nurses in the federal government.
Nurse advocates cheered Wakefield's interim appointment in March. More recently, Ron Pollack, executive director of healthcare consumer advocacy group Families USA, said in a statement that Wakefield and Slavitt were “thoughtful, experienced and forward-looking administrators” with strong records.
HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell tweeted that she was “thrilled” that the president is nominating Slavitt and Wakefield.
Wakefield was named one of Modern Healthcare's Top 25 Women in Healthcare in 2009, 2011 and 2013, along with former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.