Biden announced new high-level Veterans Affairs leadership

Today, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Shereef Elnahal as Under Secretary for Health, Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Under Secretary for Health directs a health care system with an annual budget of approximately $68 billion, overseeing the delivery of care to more than 9 million enrolled Veterans.

VA, the nation’s largest health care system, operates 1,243 sites of care, including 172 hospitals; 1,062 outpatient sites of care of varying complexity (VHA outpatient clinics); nursing homes; domiciliaries; and 300 Vet Centers.

VHA is the nation’s largest provider of graduate medical education and a major contributor to medical and scientific research.

More than 73,000 active volunteers, 127,000 health professions trainees, and more than 306,000 full-time health care professionals and support staff are an integral part of the VHA community.

Elnahal, the president and CEO of University Hospital in Newark, is a former New Jersey Commissioner of Health.

Elnahal is a physician leader who has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of University Hospital in Newark, NJ since 2019.

Prior to this role, Elnahal served as New Jersey’s 21st Health Commissioner, and he was the first Muslim member of New Jersey’s Cabinet in state history.

He also served as Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Quality, Safety, and Value at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from 2016 through 2018, overseeing the quality of care for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

He co-founded the VHA Innovation Ecosystem, a program that continues to foster the spread of innovation and best practices that improve veteran care across the nation.

Elnahal led University Hospital through the COVID-19 public health emergency, and also set up one of the first COVID-19 vaccination sites in NJ, vaccinating the state’s first health care worker on December 15th, 2020.

In addition, Elnahal has overseen improvements in care quality and patient safety at the hospital.

He has brought his public health background to bear in community-based programming, including a recently announced partnership with a developer and the NJ Housing and Mortgage Financing Authority to provide supportive housing to homeless patients; a hospital-based violence intervention program that has served as a national model; and a program that deploys trusted chaplains as community health workers.

Biden also nominated Christine Hill, the Republican Staff Director for the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health; and Patrick Murphy, a Pennsylvania native who was the first Iraq War Veteran to serve in Congress, to be members of the VA’s Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission.

Biden also nominated Ray Jefferson, for Under Secretary for Benefits, Veterans Benefits Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs; Rita Landgraf, for Assistant Secretary for Aging, Department of Health and Human Services; and Roselyn Tso, for Director of the Indian Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services.

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