Gingrich Named as Possible Replacement at HHS for Thompson
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who announced his resignation on Friday, raised the possibility that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) could replace him, although "Washington watchers assumed his vacancy would be filled quickly by heir apparent" CMS Administrator Mark McClellan, CongressDaily reports. Gingrich, founder of the Center for Health Transformation, is a "favorite of conservatives but also considered a lightning rod," according to CongressDaily. A Gingrich spokesperson said that the former House speaker is "flattered to have his name thrown in" but has no interest in the position of HHS secretary and has not received an offer. However, the spokesperson said, "Well, you never say never."
In addition to Gingrich, Thompson mentioned McClellan, HHS Deputy Secretary Claude Allen, CDC Director Julie Gerberding, NIH Director Elias Zerhouni and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci as possible replacements. Observers also consider Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Mike Leavitt as a possible replacement for Thompson, CongressDaily reports. Although most observers consider McClellan the "frontrunner" to replace Thompson, he might decide to wait until the new Medicare prescription drug benefit takes effect in 2006 before "taking a less hands-on spot" as HHS secretary, CongressDaily reports (Heil, CongressDaily, 12/6).