- The Washington Times - Friday, January 15, 2021

The man who played a key role in saving HealthCare.gov from ruin will help President-elect Joseph R. Biden in his quest to wrangle the coronavirus and rebuild the U.S. economy.

Andy Slavitt was the key player in the federal Obamacare website’s turnaround after it crashed upon launch in late 2013.

President Barack Obama later tapped him to oversee Medicare, Medicaid and federal insurance programs. Since then, he’s been a vocal advocate for Mr. Obama’s signature program and hosted a podcast on the COVID-19 crisis.

He’s one of several advisers the Biden team added to its coronavirus team on Friday.

Former Food and Drug Commissioner David Kessler, who served presidents from both parties in 1990-1997, will serve as Mr. Biden’s chief science adviser for the COVID-19 response.

Abbe Gluck, a prominent Yale law professor with government experience in New Jersey and New York City, will serve as general counsel.

The Biden team also added several new policy advisers and communications pros — including Ben Wakana, a former spokesman for the Obama Department of Health and Human Services who later served as executive director of the Patients For Affordable Drugs, a nonprofit that pressured lawmakers to drive down the cost of prescription medicines.

Dr. B. Cameron Webb will serve as a senior policy adviser. 

Dr. Webb is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Virginia who lost the 5th Congressional District race in Virginia to Rep. Bob Good, a Republican, in November.

“We are in a race against time, and we need a comprehensive strategy to quickly contain this virus. The individuals announced today will bolster the White House’s COVID-19 Response team and play important roles in carrying out our rescue plan and vaccination program,” Mr. Biden said. “At a time when American families are facing numerous challenges, I know these public servants will do all that is needed to build our nation back better.”

Mr. Biden also appointed several members of his “science team.”

He elevated the presidential science adviser to the Cabinet level and named Eric Lander, a principal in the Human Genome Project, to the role.

The president-elect said Dr. Frances Collins will continue to lead the National Institutes of Health.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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