Friday, August 4, 2017

APA Member McCance-Katz Confirmed First HHS Assistant Sec’y for MH/SU; Adams Confirmed Surgeon General

Elinore McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D., was confirmed yesterday by the U.S. Senate as the first Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H., was confirmed as U.S. Surgeon General.

Both nominees were endorsed by APA. McCance-Katz and Adams were confirmed by the Senate, along with three other nominees for HHS leadership roles. Hearings were held on Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Health, Labor, and Pensions, during which McCance-Katz and Adams both vowed to focus on the nation’s opioid crisis.

The confirmation of McCance-Katz, an APA member, is especially good news, bringing psychiatric leadership to a crucial new position at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), where she will manage and direct SAMHSA and coordinate mental health and substance use programs and research across the federal government. McCance-Katz previously served in SAMHSA as the first chief medical officer of the agency.

The assistant secretary post was created in the 21st Century Cures Act, a bipartisan bill that President Barack Obama signed into law in December 2016.

At the hearing on Tuesday, McCance-Katz said that in addition to the opioid epidemic, her priority would be services for people with serious mental illness.

“Dr. McCance-Katz is an accomplished physician and the ideal person to guide our nation’s treatment of mental health and substance use disorders,” APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., said in a press release. “We are delighted that the Senate confirmed her as Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. We look forward to working with her to provide quality mental health care to everyone who needs it.”

McCance-Katz is currently the chief medical officer for the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals. She is also a professor of psychiatry and human behavior and professor of behavioral and social sciences at the Alpert Medical School at Brown University.

Levin also hailed the confirmation of Adams for Surgeon General. “Dr. Adams has worked throughout his career to improve public health,” he said in a press release. “His expertise in combatting opioid addiction is particularly needed as physicians and elected officials work together to reduce the toll of this epidemic. On behalf of our 37,000 members, I congratulate Dr. Adams on his confirmation and look forward to working with him to improve well-being of all Americans, including those needing treatment for mental health or substance use disorders. We commend him for ensuring that people with serious mental illness are a part of his agenda.” Currently, Adams is the Indiana State Health Commissioner.


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