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CDC Director Favored For Dual Health Jobs


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 26) -- Contrary to earlier reports, Dr. David Satcher, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has not yet agreed to take the dual role of assistant secretary of health and U.S. surgeon general.

According to a source at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Satcher "is the leading candidate, but he has not been selected. The nomination has not gone forward, and may not ever go forward."

A source at the CDC in Atlanta told CNN that Satcher has been negotiating with the administration and wants the job of assistant secretary of health to be vested with more authority before he accepts it.

A White House source said Satcher is a well-respected health leader with an excellent track record.

"He's respected. He's listened to. He is a credible spokesman on such a wide range of issues, from AIDS to research to public health," the official said.

The acting surgeon general, Dr. Audrey Manley, is scheduled to leave office July 1. Assistant Secretary of Health Philip Heath has already left his post.

The surgeon general's post has been filled on a temporary basis since Dr. Joycelyn Elders resigned in 1995. Her designated successor, Dr. Henry Foster, failed to win Senate approval amidst a furor over his performing of abortions.

Public health groups, including the professional organization representing officers in the U.S. Public Health Service, have called on the administration to name one person to hold both jobs.

"You really only need one," said Michael Lord, executive director of the Commissioned Officers Association of the Public Health Service. "Our strong view is that the one you need is the one recognized nationally, and internationally, because of the uniform,"

The positions were combined during the Carter administration, when Julius Richmond held both posts. But President Reagan divided the jobs when there was controversy about appointing C. Everett Koop as assistant secretary of health. Koop was named surgeon general.

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