Andrea Palm poised for confirmation for No. 2 federal health post

Andrea Palm. Credit: Biden administration

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate is poised to confirm Andrea Palm, who previously served as the top health official in Wisconsin, to become deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Palm, who most recently served as Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services secretary-designee, cleared a procedural vote Monday, 62-35, with a final vote expected Tuesday morning.

She faced little opposition to her confirmation in D.C., in contrast to the staunch resistance she found from Republican state lawmakers in her last role. GOP legislators in Wisconsin refused to confirm her and challenged her efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, Phoenix affiliate the Wisconsin Examiner has reported.

The GOP-controlled state Senate accused her and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers of overreaching through public health declarations and mask mandates. Republican lawmakers also took Palm to court to overturn those public health orders.

Prior to her work in Wisconsin, Palm held a number of roles at HHS during the Obama administration, including as acting assistant secretary for legislation, chief of staff, and senior counselor to the secretary. She worked on the Affordable Care Act and was involved in the agency’s fight against the opioid crisis.

She spent her 20s as a caseworker, finding safe homes for children and working with people in behavioral health crises. During her Senate hearing, Palm said that work drew her to public service and “made me want to change the system.”

Born and raised in rural upstate New York, Palm holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a master’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis.

Laura Olson
Laura covers the nation's capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom, a network of nonprofit outlets that includes Florida Phoenix. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.