Obama said in a statement that the two will be critical to his effort to overhaul the health care system by reducing costs and expanding coverage.
Gov. Sebelius will face a host of challenges in her new job, including a health system in disarray and a nation’s food supply at risk.
The announcement of his health and human services secretary nominee comes just days before the president holds a White House summit on health care. Lawmakers from both parties and representatives of major interest groups, from insurers to drug companies to consumers, will attend.
Gaining their support — as well as winning confirmation — are among the 60-year-old governor’s first challenges. A vast bureaucracy that handles everything from Medicare to cancer research to food safety awaits her. She will also be a very public face for Obama’s plans for health care, although a White House-based counterpart will handle many of the new policy moves.
Sebelius is seen as a steady hand and an experienced public official who knows how to work across political lines. But she represents Obama’s backup plan.
Sebelius knows some of the key players, but will have to establish a working relationship with others.
Obama made his opening move on a health care overhaul last week: his speech to Congress and a budget that set aside $634 billion over 10 years as a down payment on coverage for all. It’s a goal that could ultimately cost $1 trillion or more.
Story courtesy of NPR