Obama Presents Health Policy Team

Posted March 2, 2009 at 12:44pm

President Barack Obama today named Democratic Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to be Health and Human Services secretary and Nancy-Ann DeParle to lead the White House health care office, tapping two veteran health care hands to lead his effort to revamp the nation’s health system.Sebelius served as Kansas insurance commissioner before becoming governor and was picked in part because of her ability to work with Republicans in her heavily GOP state. In DeParle, Obama gets someone experienced at navigating the corridors of power in Washington as well as one of the country’s leading health care experts. The two will take on the role that would have been played solely by former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), who withdrew as HHS nominee and White House health czar after questions arose about his taxes.In remarks at the White House, Obama made clear that despite the difficulties health care reform has faced in the past, he is going ahead with it. “I didn’t come to Washington to take the easy route,— Obama said. Sebelius indicated the effort will be bipartisan. “This is not a partisan challenge. It’s an American challenge,— she said.In a nod to Congress’s role in the effort, Obama brought Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) onto the stage with him along with Sebelius and DeParle. The president will kick-start his effort when he hosts a White House health care summit on Thursday.