Thursday, November 20, 2008

Obama Picks Daschle As Health Secretary-Official

“Barack Obama has chosen former U.S. Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle as his top official to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system, two Democratic sources said on Wednesday. As Health and Human Services secretary, Daschle will play a central role in the president-elect's plans to extend healthcare coverage to the 47 million Americans -- nearly one-sixth of the population -- who lack medical insurance. Daschle, of South Dakota, was an early supporter of Obama's, encouraging the first-term senator from Illinois to make his presidential run. He is currently head of Obama's healthcare policy group as the president-elect prepares to take office on Jan. 20. Daschle would be a high-profile pick to head an agency that oversees existing healthcare programs like Medicare, which are expected to see their costs balloon as the U.S. population ages. Daschle, who was elected to the Senate in 1986, was the top Democrat in the Senate between 1994 and 2004, and majority leader when Democrats controlled the chamber between 2001 and 2003. He was a member of the House of Representatives for eight years before becoming a senator. Since losing his re-election bid in 2004, Daschle has worked as a public policy advisor for the law firm Alston and Bird. He was not immediately available for comment. Daschle was reported to be a candidate for Obama's chief of staff before that job went to Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel.”

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