Archive for Friday, March 27, 2009

Sebelius’ hearing for Cabinet post set for next week

March 27, 2009


— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius faces a confirmation hearing next week in Washington on her nomination as U.S. secretary of health and human services.

Sebelius will testify April 2 before the Senate Finance Committee, which will then decide whether to send the nomination to the full Senate. She’s expected to face little opposition.

That won’t be the Kansas governor’s only stop on Capitol Hill next week. On Tuesday, she’s scheduled to go before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in what’s being billed as a courtesy hearing.

Sebelius was nominated March 2 by President Barack Obama to head the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicare and Medicaid, the government health programs for the elderly and the poor.

If she’s confirmed, Sebelius will resign in the middle of her second term as governor and be replaced by Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson. He has said he won’t run for governor in 2010.

As HHS secretary, Sebelius will face the challenge of pushing through changes Obama has outlined, including setting aside $634 billion over 10 years as a down payment on health care overhaul.

Sebelius has a history of bucking the insurance industry, which faces the biggest hit under Obama’s initial health care.

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. It promised to maintain coverage levels.

Sebelius blocked the deal in February 2002 after concluding that premiums would rise under Anthem’s ownership. That helped create an image as a staunch consumer advocate.

Driving age

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius plans to sign legislation today raising the age for getting an unrestricted driver’s license from 16 to 17.

Kansans would still be able to obtain farm permits and learner’s permits at age 14. Teens with learner’s permits may drive when they’re accompanied by an adult.

But drivers would have to have a farm or learner’s permit for one year instead of the current six months before obtaining a restricted license.

The state would keep its current policy of allowing a 15-year-old with a restricted license to drive unsupervised to and from school and work.

Kansas would become the 49th state to adopt a graduated driver’s license law.

A 16-year-old with a restricted license could drive unsupervised anywhere from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., provided the young motorists already had 50 hours of adult-supervised driving.

After six months, the curfew on unsupervised driving could be dropped.


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