If approved, she will be President Obama's point person to overhaul the health care system whose problems include safety lapses at the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) escalating costs in Medicare (whose projected insolvency is as soon as 2016) and health care reform, a dazzling maze of a bureaucracy and cancer research, among others.
The likelihood is that she will be approved and that Sebelius will be on her way to steering through congress President Obama's ambitious effort to overhaul America's horrendous health care system. However, unlike Senator Tom Daschle's nomination (who resigned from because of tax problems), President Obama's nomination of Sebelius is not just a reward to fellow democrat who supported him. Though she came out in favor of President Obama early and campaigned for him, Governor Sebelius has been known for sometimes as a very able administrator who is very knowledgeable about health issues.
As governor, she also served as state insurance commissioner for eight years, overseeing the Medicaid program for the poor during her tenure as governor. She tried tried unsuccessfully to expand health coverage in the state through higher cigarette taxes. That attempt failed. Nonetheless, she was able to get health coverage for tens of thousands of low-income children.
As insurance commissioner, she also handled herself ably in dealing with insurance companies like Blue Cross and Blue Shield. She proved to be an able administrator who could speak insurance language and, when appropriate, call them on the carpet on issues like higher premiums.
Sebelius, 60, can be tough too. You may recall that she fought Republicans in her legislature and the Bush administration when they failed to respond quickly to the natural disasters in her state. For this, she won increased favorable support from her citizens and loads of respect from Republican and Democratic State legislators. Not just another pretty face, she is a smart, poised, experienced public official who is unfazed by the complexities of health care and insurance issues and who, when necessary, will fight hard for good policy.
Governor Sebelius will have to facilitate the department through tough problems. On the other hand, she will be comforted by the fact that President Obama views health care as a priority. He has already set aside 634 billion over 10 years as a down payment on health coverage for all Americans. And he has also outlined some general policies, such as putting the country on a path to cover all its citizens and preserving the employer role in providing health insurance. He also suggests that he is open to making tough choices-- including tax increases to enact health care reform.
President Obama: selecting Governor Sebelius as head of HHS is change the daddy can believe in.