Archive for Monday, March 2, 2009

Obama unveils Sebelius as his latest choice for HHS secretary

Short introductory press conference held at White House

President Barack Obama announces Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as his nominee for Health and Human Services secretary Monday in the East Room of the White House.

President Barack Obama announces Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as his nominee for Health and Human Services secretary Monday in the East Room of the White House.

March 2, 2009, 9:24 a.m. Updated March 2, 2009, 3:20 p.m.


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What grade would you give Kathleen Sebelius for her work as Kansas governor?

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On the street

What do you think of Kathleen Sebelius being picked as secretary of Health and Human Services?

Well, I think the state of Kansas is going to miss her terribly, but I think she has a great opportunity.

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Obama presents Sebelius for HHS

It was "goodbye Kansas" and "hello Washington" for Kathleen Sebelius on Monday. Enlarge video

Sebelius announced as Health and Human Services designee

Pres. Barack Obama makes the official announcement confirming Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as the Secretary of Health and Human Services designee. Enlarge video

Breaking down the selection

KU Prof. Burdett Loomis discusses the selection of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services on PBS's "Newshour." Enlarge video

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.

— President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the Health and Human Services Department has a history of bucking the insurance industry, which faces the biggest hit under Obama’s initial health care reform plan.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius gets her introduction to the reform debate at a White House summit Obama will call to order on Thursday.

Obama introduced Sebelius on Monday as his choice to run HHS, including overseeing Medicare and Medicaid, the twin government health programs for the elderly and the poor. Their spiraling costs threaten to bankrupt the country.

The 60-year-old, second-term governor has cultivated an image as someone who stands up to insurers.

She was state insurance commissioner in 2001 when Indianapolis-based Anthem Insurance Cos. Inc. offered to buy Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Kansas for $190 million as it sought to expand its holdings nationwide. It promised to maintain coverage levels.

Sebelius blocked the deal in February 2002 after concluding that premiums would rise under Anthem’s ownership. She prevailed when the state’s highest court overturned a lower court ruling that she had exceeded her authority by rejecting the offer.

Later that year, Sebelius made her decision against the merger a central component of her campaign for governor, using it to help craft her image as a staunch consumer advocate who would stand up to powerful special interests.

As the nation’s health secretary, Sebelius likely will have a similar, but bigger fight on her hands: pushing through the changes Obama outlined in the 2010 budget he released last week. Among other things, it calls for setting aside $634 billion over 10 years as a down payment on health care overhaul.

About half the sum would come from spending cuts in government health programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid.

But the biggest cut of all — nearly $177 billion — would come from reducing payments to private insurance plans now serving about 10 million Medicare recipients, about one-fourth of the seniors and disabled people enrolled in the programs.

“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,” Obama said in the East Room of the White House as he introduced Sebelius.

Obama also announced that he had chosen Nancy-Ann DeParle to run the White House Office for Health Reform. DeParle was a health policy figure during the Clinton administration.

Sebelius is subject to Senate confirmation; DeParle is not.

Both posts were to be filled by former the longtime senator from South Dakota, Tom Daschle, but Obama was left searching for replacements after Daschle withdrew from consideration about a month ago after disclosing he failed to pay $140,000 in taxes and interest.

Sebelius told Obama that she shares his belief “that we can’t fix the economy without fixing health care.”

As insurance commissioner, Sebelius also sought to require insurance companies to cover birth control for women. Insurance lobbyists and anti-abortion groups opposed the proposal, and it died in the state Legislature.

She also cut state workers’ compensation rates by more than 11 percent, when the industry wanted a more than 4 percent increase. And she has argued that patients should be allowed to sue insurance companies over their decisions.

A Roman Catholic who supports abortion rights, Sebelius’ nomination prompted angry reactions from anti-abortion groups outraged by her ties to Dr. George Tiller, a late-term abortion provider in Wichita, Kan. Groups including Operation Rescue and Concerned Women for America vowed to mobilize against her nomination. The American Life League said it was rolling out a “STOP Sebelius” petition and asking other anti-abortion groups to join.

Labor unions, the American Medical Association and the Hispanic advocacy group National Council of La Raza applauded the nomination.

As a state lawmaker, Sebelius worked to codify into state law the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. She voted to allow state-financed abortions and against restricting late-term abortions, adding an eight-hour waiting period and requiring parental notification for minors.

As governor, she vetoed a bill putting new restrictions on abortion and allowing lawsuits to block the procedure on fetuses 22 weeks or older.

“There is nobody in America in my mind that is more radically sold out to the abortion lobby than Kathleen Sebelius,” said Troy Newman, president of Kansas-based Operation Rescue.

But such criticism did not appear to be translating, at least immediately, into opposition among senators who will vote on her nomination.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., one of the Senate’s leading social conservatives, issued a joint statement with Roberts that seemed to accept Sebelius’ nomination as a done deal.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a medical doctor and another conservative whom anti-abortion groups were looking to for help, signaled through a spokesman that he was concerned about Sebelius’ abortion position, but stopped short of threatening to block her nomination.

Sebelius has been criticized for holding a reception at the governor’s mansion in April 2007 with Tiller, who was under investigation into whether he illegally performed late-term abortions. She held the reception as part of a fundraising auction for the Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus. Tiller was the highest bidder.

Tiller is scheduled to go on trial later this month on 19 misdemeanor charges alleging he failed to get a second opinion from an independent physician before performing some late-term abortions, as Kansas law requires.


iowastreetradar 9 years, 3 months ago

I guess Gov. Sebelius finally "dropped the soap" for Obama.

Easy 9 years, 3 months ago

Don't let the door hit you on the way out. Maybe now we can have some coal plants.

Confrontation 9 years, 3 months ago

Great for the country, horrible for Kansas. We'll miss you Sebelius! You were the hope in a sea of stupid Republicans.

c_dubya 9 years, 3 months ago

Hooray! Don't let the door...

Never mind. Let it hit you.

Aw, Easy you beat me to it!

calvin 9 years, 3 months ago

Kathy- please don't ever come back to Kansas.

KEITHMILES05 9 years, 3 months ago

Fantastic day to get rid of this old hag. She has done nothing but run this state into the ground with a very anti business approach plus her approval of very sexual game which was produced in Cedar Crest.

She has been a HORRIBLE presence in this state.

Good riddance 'ya 'ole queen.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 3 months ago

She's a centrist taking a job with a centrist president in his centrist administration, and she'll be replaced by her centrist Lt. Gov., who will have to contend with a legislature dominated by a Republican party whose moderate and ultraconservative wings are at war with each other.

jt08 9 years, 3 months ago

Congrats Gov. Sebelius! Kansas' loss is the nation's gain.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 3 months ago

In bozo-world, just to the left of Lenin = centerist.

c_dubya 9 years, 3 months ago

"centrist president"

Bozo you crack me up man. Priceless.

Mixolydian 9 years, 3 months ago

Is it possible to leave a comment without childish name calling. Old hag? Republi-losers?

You're not funny, clever, witty, amusing, interesting or anything else remotely resembling a positive adjective.

None of you.

Sean Livingstone 9 years, 3 months ago

"beobachter (Anonymous) says… pogo, yes some people never accomplish anything. Look at your beloved former president W."

You're dead wrong. W does A LOT, including invading a neutral country, mess up the Middle East, and of course the economy. Then all his men to infiltrate the economy and grab all the monies. And of course, the Democrats didn't do much, and simply sit aside to watch the whole events unfold in front of them.

You don't call these accomplishments, I don't know what you'll call them.

Sean Livingstone 9 years, 3 months ago

"Marion (Marion Lynn) says… Well, we'll have to see how the “Sibelius stimulus” works out!"

Yeap, I also wonder who "stimulated" Rush Limbaugh and made him gave such an "exciting" speech.... must have had some fun before that. My first thought is Ann Coulter, but coming back, don't think she can handle him that well, though I foresee both can do well in a nice movie... (that kind you know).

Confrontation 9 years, 3 months ago

ArumerZwarteHoop, thanks for the offer. However, I have to remain in Kansas so that we don't have a brain drain. If I leave, there'll be a severe drop in the intelligence level of the state. Afterall, you Repubs keep our overall IQ level extremely low.

beawolf 9 years, 3 months ago

not_holroyd, Can't you just clip and paste a link.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 3 months ago

About HR 676 National Health Insurance

Let’s move into this plan slowly. Why not go into this matter that leaves the choice more or less open to citizens. This program could begin by moving all of the following into the program and bringing those tax dollars with them. • everyone on social security and their dependents • all disabled veterans • all Iraq/Afghanistan veterans • all federal government employees including active duty military stationed stateside • all currently uninsured

What this approach does is leave open the choice for all others to either make the change or continue with their current insurance provider. Thus removing any confrontation with insurance providers.

Face it an HR 676 will save large amounts of tax dollars on all federal employees,vets and those currently uninsured. Are Americans ready for HR 676? Of course they are. No doubt millions more will sign on once an HR 676 is put in place.

Not only that HR 676 makes all Americans more employable. Not to mention the opportunity it creates for new small business ventures. So many would not venture off to becoming a small business entrepreneur due to the cost of maintaining insurance for their families so now opportunity knocks. Now we're talking long term economic growth for americans by way of long term employment.

Employers should not be forced to pay up. There are enough tax dollars available in the USA to cover the cost easily: 60% of insured are covered with taxes = a big slice of the pie Cut subsidies going to very wealthy industries = Another sizeable slice of the pie. Let's get them off welfare! Instead have those tax dollars care for americans thus attracting industry and new jobs at the same time which creates new economic growth. Cut defense budget 25%-50% = a healthy slice of the pie Implement 1 cent sales tax to supplement. This is one sales tax that would pay back to every taxpayer and their local community. What a great way to bring tax dollars home.

*WHY wouldn't TAXPAYERS want THEIR tax dollars to cover the expense of THEIR own medical insurance? What in the world is wrong with that? What could be more american

dougmarshall 9 years, 3 months ago

Let's hope she is confirmed so we don't have to let her back in! It should tell us all something when you see mostly negative comments about her on the paper's site, which originates in the only blue county in the state. Imagine how bad the comments would be if the paper wasn't in the liberal capital of Kansas!

em1 9 years, 3 months ago

I just hope she's paid her taxes...............

meggers 9 years, 3 months ago


The negative comments towards Sebelius and other democrats on this site have little to do with the overall perception of the public. Unfortunately, there is a very vocal minority of either unemployed or underemployed right wing mouthpieces who spend inordinate amounts of time on the LJW foisting their hate-filled wisdom upon the community at large.

If you don't believe me, just look at Sebelius' re-election numbers and then tell me that what you're seeing in this thread is representative of Lawrence's (or even Kansas') overall view of the governor.

meggers 9 years, 3 months ago


Other than the fact that the economy remains in a tailspin, as it was before Obama took office, your link in no way backs up your assertion. If Obama "owns" this crisis(which is still considered a recession by most economic experts), he clearly inherited it from his predecessor. But don't let the truth get in your way.

Steve Jacob 9 years, 3 months ago

Good article on CNN about her, saying the big issue in confirmation is abortion. "Sebelius is so qualified, the abortion issue may not be enough to derail her nomination." And even Brownback supports he nomination.

Linda Aikins 9 years, 3 months ago

I guess I was watching a different governor. I see her as strong and not afraid to take on a whole state of republicans. I feel proud to have her represent Kansas in DC.

meggers 9 years, 3 months ago

I wonder if Brownback isn't making a big deal about the abortion issue, because he has his eye on the governorship. shudder

sustainabilitysister 9 years, 3 months ago

Congratulations Governor Sebelius! Thank you for serving Kansas!

ENGWOOD 9 years, 3 months ago

As Red Forman from That 70's show would say "dumb ass"

Shardwurm 9 years, 3 months ago

Step 1 of the Kansas stimulus package accomplished.

Thank you President Obama!

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