APA and the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society today urged the Senate to move swiftly to confirm the appointment of Rachel Levine, M.D., as assistant secretary of health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Since 2017, Levine served as the secretary of health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In this role, she signed a standing order for naloxone, enabling pharmacies in Pennsylvania to dispense this life-saving treatment to thousands, and headed efforts to establish opioid-prescribing guidelines and prescribing education for medical students. She also led COVID-19 response efforts in the state.
“Dr. Rachel Levine’s work fighting the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania [has been] tremendous,” said APA President Jeffrey Geller, M.D., M.P.H., in a press statement. “The United States will be well served by her leadership as we navigate COVID-19 and its impacts on mental health.”
Levine is also a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine and serves as president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. She has been a leader at promoting the interconnection between physical and mental health as well as a staunch advocate for the LGBTQ community. In 2018, APA awarded Levine the Jacob J. Javits Award, given to a public servant who has made significant contributions to the field of mental health and worked to better the lives of people with mental illness and underserved populations.
“Dr. Rachel Levine’s credentials as a leader in medicine are impeccable,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., in a press statement. She will be an important voice in the Biden administration for everyone in the country, including members of the LGBTQ community and those with mental health and substance use disorders, he continued. “We urge the Senate to confirm her appointment as soon as it has the opportunity.”
“Working closely with our society, [Dr. Levine] has made it her mission to reduce stigma and advance the availability of evidenced-based, holistic, and affordable mental health treatment and services for all individuals seeking assistance,” added Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society President Richard R. Silbert, M.D.
If confirmed, Levine would be the first transgender person confirmed by the Senate as a federal official.
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