Obama Appoints Gay Man to HHS

By Kerry Eleveld

Originally published on Advocate.com August 19 2010 5:15 PM ET

Richard Sorian, who is gay, was among four people whom the White
House announced Thursday would receive recess appointments. Sorian was
nominated by President Barack Obama back in
October of 2009 to serve as assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.

In a press release from the White House, President Obama said, “At a time when our nation faces so many pressing challenges, I urge members of the Senate to stop playing politics with our highly qualified nominees, and fulfill their responsibilities of advice and consent. Until they do, I reserve the right to act within my authority to do what is best for the American people.”

The White House provided the following background on Sorian:

Richard Sorian, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services

Richard Sorian is currently a Senior Adviser to the Secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services. Previously, he was Vice President for Public Policy and External Relations for the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), where he directed the organization’s media relations, policy development and advocacy, and relations with employers, consumers, and other key stakeholders. Before working for NCQA, Sorian was Director of Public Affairs for the Center for Studying Health System Change and a Project Director at the Georgetown University Institute for Health Care Research and Policy. From 1993 to 1998, Sorian was a Senior Advisor for Health Policy Communications in the Office of Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna E. Shalala. In that capacity, Sorian focused on health care reform, HIV/AIDS policy, and health care quality improvement. From 1997 to 1998, he served as Deputy Director of the President’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry, where he directed work on the Patient’s Bill of Rights. From 1980 to 1993, Sorian was an award-winning journalist covering U.S. health care policy development. He was editor of Medicine & Health and the Journal of American Health Policy. He is also the author of three books: The Bitter Pill: Tough Choice in America’s Health Policy (1989); A New Deal for American Health Care (1993); and The Health Care 500 (1988). He is a graduate of George Washington University and, in 1989, was awarded a Fellowship for Advanced Studies in Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health.