Finally, the wait is over. The Obama Administration has tapped Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of Kansas, for the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Sebelius, if you remember, was an early supportor of President Obama and also a possible vice-presidential choice for a while. Governor Sebelius, currently in the middle of her second term, will only serve the Secretary position and not pick up the new White House Office of Healthcare Reform position Daschle had previously negotiated for himself.
+ Eight years experience as Kansas’s insurance commissioner, helping draft a “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” (New York Times).
+ Six years as governor managing a state Medicaid program (New York Times).
+ A record of reaching across the aisle and a very helpful addition to the Obama administration in that sense, especially when the parties are so divided on health care.
+ Served as president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners — understanding the insurance system is probably critical to understanding health care.
+ Personally believes abortion is wrong, but has vetoed abortion regulations on legal or policy grounds.
+ Health care was the one issue she really couldn’t “bridge the gap.” Tried to raise cigarette tax to fund health care — failed, because of Republican legislature. Proposed universal health care system, nothing came to fruit.
+ A lot of people want Sebelius to run for Sam Brownback’s (R-KS) Senate seat in 2010. Many thought she would be Democrat who “break” the Republican trend in her state.
+ Anti-abortion activists will be fighting this tooth and nail. The archbishop of Kansas City already refused her communion on the basis of her abortion views. The Catholic League called her an â€œenemy of the unbornâ€ and will fight her nomination.
I really don’t know much else about her to determine whether or not she is indeed a good pick for HHS. Any thoughts?