Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Obama Names Sebelius, DeParle to Key Health Posts

“President Barack Obama named a former Clinton administration official to head his White House Office for Health Reform, handing a veteran policy expert the task of helping to steer one of his biggest policy initiatives. The announcement of Nancy-Ann DeParle came Monday afternoon when he introduced Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as his choice for secretary of Health and Human Services. (See the White House's statement.) Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was to wear both hats in the Obama administration before he was forced to pull out amid controversy over late paid taxes. The dual announcements were highly anticipated since Mr. Daschle pulled out a month ago, and they kick off a week of White House attention to health care. Health and Human services Secretary nominee Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius speaks after being introduced by President Obama. On Thursday, Mr. Obama will host a White House summit on how to overhaul the health-care system, with some 120 invited members of Congress, lobbyists for various interest groups and some regular Americans gathering to discuss the road forward. ‘We're starting the discussion with everyone in the room,’ said Jenny Backus, an HHS spokeswoman. ‘If we are going to help families, save businesses, and improve the long-term economic health of our nation, we must realize that fixing what's wrong with our health care system is no longer just a moral imperative, but a fiscal imperative. Health care reform that reduces costs while expanding coverage is no longer just a dream we hope to achieve -- it's a necessity we have to achieve,’ Mr. Obama said in a statement Monday. ‘Gov. Sebelius is a strong choice for health and human services secretary," said Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.), chairman of the Finance Committee, which will consider her nomination. ‘Passing comprehensive health-care reform is an absolute imperative this year, and as a former insurance commissioner, Gov. Sebelius really gets what needs to be done.’”


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