Thursday, February 19, 2009
The New York Times reports today that Governor Kathleen Seblius is President Obama's top pick for Secretary of HHS. Peter Baker and Robert Pear write,
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, an early Obama ally with a record of working across party lines, is emerging as the president’s top choice for secretary of health and human services, advisers said Wednesday. Should she be nominated, Ms. Sebelius would bring eight years of experience as her state’s insurance commissioner as well as six years as a governor running a state Medicaid program.
But with President Obama about to begin a drive to expand health coverage, an issue on which the two parties have deep ideological divisions, her strongest asset in the view of the White House may be her record of navigating partisan politics as a Democrat in one of the country’s most Republican states. . . . With his economic recovery plan signed into law, Mr. Obama plans to turn his attention more to health care next week with a fiscal blueprint that will begin to advance his ideas about covering the uninsured, advisers said. He may also make health care a theme of his prime-time address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, they said. . . .
If she becomes health secretary, she will be the fourth woman in the 15-member cabinet, overseeing 65,000 employees and a $700 billion budget. But she is unlikely to also wear the second hat that Mr. Daschle negotiated for himself as White House health czar, a position that could be influential in setting health care policy. . . .
As Kansas insurance commissioner, Ms. Sebelius helped draft a proposed national bill of rights for patients and blocked the sale of Blue Cross and Blue Shield to an out-of-state company because it would have raised premiums. She served as president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and often testified before Congress. . . .