Archive for Saturday, February 28, 2009

Obama taps Sebelius for HHS secretary

In this Jan. 29, 2008, file photo, then-Sen. Barack Obama, and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius accept applause at the Butler Community College Gymnasium in El Dorado. Sebelius is President Barack Obama’s pick to head the Health and Human Services Department, a White House source said Saturday.

In this Jan. 29, 2008, file photo, then-Sen. Barack Obama, and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius accept applause at the Butler Community College Gymnasium in El Dorado. Sebelius is President Barack Obama’s pick to head the Health and Human Services Department, a White House source said Saturday.

February 28, 2009, 4:49 p.m. Updated February 28, 2009, 6:19 p.m.


Kathleen Sebelius: Two decades in politics

Kathleen Sebelius is the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services in Obama's Cabinet. She has served as Kansas' governor since 2002 and before that was insurance commissioner and a state representative.

— Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is President Barack Obama’s choice for secretary of health and human services, a White House source said Saturday.

The source, who was not authorized to speak on the record, said Obama will formally announce the nomination on Monday.

The Sebelius pick caps a week in which Obama underscored his resolve to pass a major health care overhaul this year. He issued a challenge to Congress in his speech Tuesday, and followed up Thursday with a budget that requested an eye-popping $634 billion over 10 years, which the administration called a “down payment” on coverage for all.

This week, Obama will host lawmakers of both parties and representatives of major interest groups, from insurers to drug companies to consumers, at a White House summit on health care reform.

Sebelius’ credentials

Sebelius, 60, is seen as a solid choice to head HHS because as a governor responsible for the Medicaid program in Kansas, she faced the pressure of rising health care costs directly and saw how hard it is to expand coverage, particularly in bad economic times.

She is also familiar with the insurance industry, a key interest group in the health care debate. Before becoming governor, she served as insurance commissioner, and her fellow state commissioners selected her to be national president of their association.

However, Sebelius lacks the deep Washington connections of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Obama’s first pick for the job. Daschle, who withdrew after disclosing he had failed to pay $140,000 in taxes and interest, was on a first name basis with most of the members of the Senate. And it’s in the Senate where many expect Obama’s health care effort to succeed or fail.

Originally, Daschle was to hold both the position of HHS secretary and a top White House post directing the health reform effort. An administration official said Saturday the White House position will not go to Sebelius but will be filled by another person.


Sebelius had been seen the leading candidate for HHS for several weeks and word of her appointment was greeted favorably by both those who favor the expansion of health care coverage and health insurers.

“Together with the president’s speech to Congress, and his big health care investment in the budget, the president’s appointment of Gov. Sebelius once again makes clear his intention of achieving meaningful health care reform this year,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a liberal advocacy group that has worked for years to expand health care coverage.

“Gov. Sebelius is the right person to move the president’s health care agenda forward,” said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plan, the major trade group representing insurers. “She has a wealth of experience of health care issues and has a legislative history of working with both sides of the aisle.”

Abortion foes strongly oppose Sebelius because she had a reception in April 2007 at the governor’s residence attended by Dr. George Tiller, a late-term abortion provider from Wichita. Tiller was under investigation by the attorney general’s office at the time and is scheduled to go to trial March 16 on 19 misdemeanor charges of violating state restrictions on late-term procedures.

The anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, headquartered in Wichita, called Sebelius “unfit to serve.”

Democrats say there was never any doubt that Obama would appoint an HHS secretary who supports abortion rights.

Sebelius will be subject to confirmation by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Good fit

The top leaders of the GOP-controlled Kansas Legislature weren’t surprised by the news. Senate President Steve Morris, of Hugoton, said Sebelius will bring a state perspective to the job and, “I think it will be good to have her there.”

House Speaker Mike O’Neal, of Hutchinson, said the ongoing speculation about Sebelius had been a distraction in dealing with the state’s budget problems.

“I can’t imagine that she’ll have trouble getting confirmed,” O’Neal said.

The Kansas governor was an early Obama supporter and a finalist for Obama’s ticket before he picked Joe Biden for vice president. During the general election campaign, she spent 24 days stumping for Obama in 16 states, including key battlegrounds such as Colorado, Florida, Indiana, North Carolina Ohio and Pennsylvania. Some Democrats in Kansas believe her endorsement of Obama over Hillary Rodham Clinton in January 2008 helped boost him to an overwhelming victory in the state’s Democratic caucuses.

Some Democrats have said she has built a solid and even close relationship with Obama, gaining his trust.

Her name had been floated for several Cabinet posts, but she removed herself from consideration in December, citing Kansas’ budget problems that needed her attention.

But Kansas Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat and Sebelius ally, said of the HHS job, “It fits her very well.”

Sebelius comes from a strong political family. Her father, John Gilligan, was the governor of Ohio in 1971-75, making them the only father-daughter governors in U.S. history.

National party circles have buzzed about Sebelius since she won her first term as governor in GOP-leaning Kansas in 2002, aided by her image as a no-nonsense administrator and consumer advocate. Party leaders have portrayed her as someone who has been able to attract support from moderate Republicans and independent voters.

She is routinely described as a success at finding bipartisan solutions and has long said addressing rising health care costs and making sure more people have coverage are top priorities for her as governor.

But she’s often found her ambitions frustrated by Republican legislators who are wary of expanding government and prefer measures that help people find private insurance.

Yet legislators in both parties agree the state has made some progress on health care since Sebelius became governor in January 2003.

The state has expanded cancer screenings, allowed more Kansans can keep their health insurance up to 18 months after leaving their jobs and granted income tax deductions that helped some Kansans lower their insurance costs.

It also has increased funding for “safety net” clinics, expanded state medical and dental coverage for pregnant women and started no-interest loans to help small businesses form associations to provide health plans for employees.

The Washington Post and The Associated Press contributed to this story.


63BC 9 years, 1 month ago

But since she "withdrew her name" to deal with the state budget, she surely wouldn't go back on her word?


Dan Edwards 9 years, 1 month ago

Congrats Ms. Sebelius! Hope your confirmation hearings go OK.

Mark Parkinson, this is your moment! Do us proud.

verity 9 years, 1 month ago

Congratulations, governor.

Sorry to see you leave, but our president needs you.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 1 month ago

Oh great. Here comes ol' Sammy Brownback...

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years, 1 month ago

"Sorry to see you leave, but our president needs you."

Really? Didn't she make a committment to US first? She's not keeping her word. Ship captains go down with the ship, correct?

Wouldn't it be funny if the Lt. Governer signed the coal plants into law?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 1 month ago

I expect she'll be around just long enough to veto that bit of idiocy one more time.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 1 month ago

Governor Kathleen Sebelius ..... you go girl!!!

Congratulations. Kansas will do good should Gov Kathleen Sebelius accept the offer.

Pres Obama good job!

coldandhot 9 years, 1 month ago

Great news for Kansas! Bad news for the country. Kathleen is a great politician...KEY WORD - politician.

Mixolydian 9 years, 1 month ago

Why did she have to lie in December and say that she was staying in Kansas to adress the "economic crisis?"

I know politicians lie, and there's no question that was a bald face lie, but the truth would have been so much easier. She could have said, "Obama went a different direction in his cabinet choices but I fully support him yadda yadda yadda."

Of course, if I were cynical, I wouldn't be disappointed. But I still get disappointed when our elected leaders lie.

Sharon Aikins 9 years, 1 month ago

Oh, the changing winds of time,,,er minds. Nevermind. Didn't I just read a few weeks ago that she was withdrawing her name from any potential cabinet posts because Kansas needs her? Guess we've grown up and been kicked out of the house fast. I don't really care one way or the other but seems like it's politics and personal advancement as usual. Politics, the game where the only people who win are the players. And to play you only need a few hundred mil in your pocket. My guess is she's fed up with the Kansas congress, they're fed up with her and now they can all play nice in their insular party worlds where you check your hat and reality at the door.

Kaw Pickinton 9 years, 1 month ago

"Yay! Bring on the coal plants!! Meanwhile, the patriotic opposition to the Obambi regime continues to grow:…"

WOW 150 protesters in a city of millions! Lawrence only had a few thousand protest Bush. I smell a revolution.

ENGWOOD 9 years, 1 month ago

Good and take Parkinson and Bremby with you, Just make sure you pay your taxes and then we can rest assured that the whole Country can share our past pain in the a$$! Obama taps Sebelius OHHHH BARRRAck

RoeDapple 9 years, 1 month ago

Nobody wants to be a politician, nobody.First you want to be class president because your parents want you to, and to meet girls. Then you become a city councilman, again to meet girls. You go from there to being a senator or congressman, you got it, to meet girls. Next, you run for president, and if you get the job you only did it to meet the girls. After 4 to 8 years you get to retire from politics, go on speaking tours, make tons of money and look back on all the little people who got you there. And laugh at how gullible they were. But nobody wants to be a politician, nobody.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 9 years, 1 month ago

Wouldn't matter if she vetoed the coal plants. The legislature has passed the wishes of the majority of Kansans 4 times only to be obstructed by this doctrinaire misguided governer. They can pass it again. Now, we need to know if Parkinson is in the same league with the environmental wackos and tree-huggers.

blindrabbit 9 years, 1 month ago

Boy it's fun to read all of the right-winged teeth gnashing; damned if she does or does not. Just wait to see that whacko Brownback return; put Kansas further down the yellow brick road where we can champion Sammy along with Fred Phelps and Steve Abrams. More funny Kansas jokes will follow! What happened to the progressive Kansas that we used to know!

Calliope877 9 years, 1 month ago

Kansas used to be "progressive"? That's news to me...

jonas_opines 9 years, 1 month ago

Haha!! Look at the local righties slobbering over themselves with hate!! Haha!!

calliope: 100 years ago or so.

Ceallach 9 years, 1 month ago

Guess she just can't afford the leave without pay days that are just around the corner for KS state employees

tunahelper 9 years, 1 month ago

ding dong the wicked witch is dead ! ! !

tunahelper 9 years, 1 month ago

good bye kathy!

Hello coal power plants!!!

sticks and stones may break my bones, but silly leftists will never hurt me!

Ceallach 9 years, 1 month ago

Oh, wait . . . this must mean our state no longer has a budget crisis and we won't be forced to take days off without pay . . so it's a good thing, right?

humblecommentator 9 years, 1 month ago

Once again Giraffe Neck has sacrificed her career for the betterment of Kansas.

63BC 9 years, 1 month ago

Well, it's kind of one thing to leave the Republican Party...

Kind of another to do it less than four years after being CHAIRMAN of said party...

To advance one's career on the ticket of she whom he trashed while chairman as hopelessly "liberal."

Kansas Democrats are like the other woman who are convinced they can trust the guy now.

Really? Can you?

llama726 9 years, 1 month ago

" Is that because they know that moderation will finally return to Kansas? That socialist totalitarianism in Kansas is in eclipse? "

SOCIALIST TOTALITARIANISM? Are we just trying to make completely off-the-wall BS up now? This is the reddest of the red states. You had your moderation, now the far right is going to come back. LET'S BAN BOOKS, SCIENCE, AND EDUCATION! LET'S MARCH GLORIOUSLY BACKWARDS!

slowplay 9 years, 1 month ago

"Kansas Democrats are like the other woman who are convinced they can trust the guy now."........

Kansas Republicans are like the other guy. They'll screw you every chance they get.

Godot 9 years, 1 month ago

Forget, "Toto, I don't think we are in Kansas any more." insert, "God, why are my medical records plastered all over the internet," and, " but I'm only 75 years old, I do not want to be on the "too old to be supported" list, and "please do not force me to abort my baby, even though he might have Down's syndrome."

slowplay 9 years, 1 month ago


If you truly believe what say, I feel sorry for you. Your life must be an incredibly sad, tormented experience. I wish you the best.

Motivation 9 years, 1 month ago

This is just was Lawrence needs. Hopefully, the town's restructuring will assist in it's growth. There are few truly good people left in this town, I believe. This is the reason for all of the crime, not the "black" population, as everyone on this site likes to claim.

blakus 9 years, 1 month ago

wow wow wow wow.... those 'wow's aren't about the nomination, but for all the insane and ridiculous comments made in this forum. XD40, who's paying you to link all those sites... i hope someone is or you are wasting your time.

AjiDeGallina 9 years, 1 month ago

Marion, she is not Jewish, so you should not have any complaints.

KS 9 years, 1 month ago

Goodbye Kathy, hello coal plants. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

kusp8 9 years, 1 month ago

I like Kathleen, but it reminds me of Roy and his I don't give a sh!tt about North Carolina speech,, when she said she was withdrawing from cabinet consideration and then she gets nominated for HHS Secretary...

just a thought..............

slowplay 9 years, 1 month ago

"XD40, who's paying you to link all those sites…".....

He seems incapable of posting anything coherent on his own. That's what happens when you listen to Limbaugh 24/7.

Chris Bohling 9 years, 1 month ago

This site is such a comedy goldmine! It's a hoot to come on here and laugh at all the idiocy spewed across these boards, from the left and the right. The greatest victim of the internet era? Intelligent discussion.

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