Thomas Engels became Acting Administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) on August 1, 2019. Under Engels' leadership, HRSA serves more than 28 million people across the country through the Health Center Program, where over 93% of health centers provide mental health services. The agency strengthens the health care workforce and connects skilled professionals to underserved urban and rural communities, including more than 12,800 clinicians in the National Health Service Corps and NURSE Corps who provide medical, dental and mental health services to over 13 million Americans. HRSA also supports public health services for nearly 56 million pregnant women, mothers, children and families. The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program provides primary medical care, medications, and support services to over 535,000 patients diagnosed with HIV in the United States — 86% of those patients receiving HIV medical care are virally suppressed, meaning they have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus. Engels advances departmental priorities, including addressing the opioid epidemic through the integration of behavioral health into primary care and HIV care settings, growing the behavioral health workforce, increasing access to evidence-based prevention and treatment services, and increasing access to health care services in rural communities.
Before coming to HRSA, Engels was Deputy Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services from 2015 to 2019, managing a department with more than 6,000 employees and a $12 billion budget. In that role, he championed and oversaw the expansion of the state’s capacity to provide mental health services, the implementation of a statewide electronic health record system and the reduction in staff shortages at long-term care facilities. He was an active member of the Governor’s Task Force on Opioid Abuse and also chaired the Governor’s Human Resources Shared Services Executive Committee.
Previously, Engels was Assistant Deputy Secretary at the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services and Vice President of Public Affairs at the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin. He also served as the Government Affairs Director for the Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association and previously held public service positions working as Governor Tommy Thompson’s Deputy Press Secretary and Communications Director for the Senate Republican Caucus.