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Biography of Mike Leavitt

Secretary of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Photo of Secretary Michael O. Leavitt
Secretary Michael O. Leavitt

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Michael O. Leavitt was sworn in as the 20th Secretary of Health and Human Services on January 26, 2005. The Department he heads one of the largest civilian departments in the federal government with more than 67,000 employees and a budget that accounts for almost one out of every four federal dollars.

The Secretary is in his fourth year at HHS. When asked what he felt most satisfied about during that time, he listed:

  • Implementing the Medicare prescription drug benefit
  • Finally seeing health information technology standards developing
  • Tangible progress toward transparency of price and quality
  • Mobilizing the nation’s pandemic preparedness and retooling the nation’s medical emergency plans
  • Developing a new national strategy for safety of imported products
  • Globalizing the efforts of the FDA

Asked what he wishes would go better, he answered, “Entitlement reform: Medicare and Medicaid are drifting toward disaster, and many of our efforts to change course have been rejected or reversed by Congress. We cannot ignore this problem, and currently we are.”

Prior to his current service, Leavitt headed the Environmental Protection Agency and was elected three times as the Governor of Utah. During his eleven years as Governor, Utah was recognized six times as one of America’s best managed states. He was chosen by his peers as Chairman of the National Governors Association, Western Governors Association, and Republican Governors Association.

Prior to his public service, Secretary Leavitt was president and chief executive officer of a regional insurance firm. He is married to Jacalyn S. Leavitt; they are the parents of four boys and one girl and the grandparents of four girls and one boy.