Former HHS Secretary Heckler Passes Away

Current HHS head Azar recognized Margaret Heckler for her work in identifying the disparities in American healthcare.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar noted the passing of former HHS Secretary Margaret Heckler with a public statement recognizing her efforts to expand and improve U.S. healthcare.

“It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of Margaret Heckler, former secretary of Health and Human Services,” Azar wrote. “Secretary Heckler lived a full life in devotion to serving her country.

Heckler served as Secretary of Health and Human Services from 1983 to 1985, and in that time worked to develop a full picture of U.S. healthcare, and studied how healthcare differed between different Americans. In 1985, Heckler created the Task Force on Black and Minority Health, which researched “the impact of a broad range of behavioral, societal and healthcare issues on the current departmental program areas.”

The Heckler Report demonstrated that there was a large “disparity in the burden of death and illness experience” between African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American populations. In her opening comments to the report, Heckler called those disparities “an affront both to our ideals and to the ongoing genius of American medicine.” HHS responded by establishing the Office of Minority Health in 1987.

Before serving at HHS, Heckler served eight terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the former 10th congressional district in southeastern Massachusetts. Following her time as HHS Secretary, she served as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland from 1985 to 1989.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Editor of HME Business.

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