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Overhauling our health care system is going to take the will to fight entrenched special interests and lobbyists, the patience to work across party lines, and a little Kansas common sense.
"Kathleen Sebelius has a remarkable intellect, unquestioned integrity, and the kind of pragmatic wisdom youíll tend to find in a Kansan," President Obama said as he announced the Kansas Governor as his choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. "I know she will bring some much-needed grace and good humor to Washington, and she will be a tremendous asset to my cabinet."
The governor of Kansas since 2003, Secretary-designate Sebelius has a reputation for reaching across the aisle to work with Democrats and Republicans alike, while standing firm for what she believes in the face of pressure from special interests. And before being elected governor, she served as Kansas Insurance Commissioner from 1994-2002 -- so she knows her stuff.
That's also true of Nancy Ann DeParle, the President's choice to lead the White House Office of Health Reform and one of the nation's top health care experts. She learned firsthand how our broken health care system can impact workers and families as Tennessee's commissioner of the Department of Human Services. And she saw the big picture in the Clinton administration, where she handled health care budget issues and managed Medicare and Medicaid.
Along with these announcements, President Obama also said today that $155M from the Recovery Act will go toward supporting 126 new health centers across the country, providing care to 750,000 Americans and creating 5,000 jobs. (Get a state-by-state breakdown of how many patients will benefit from the Recovery Act funding for community health care centers.)
Itís just an early step in a major undertaking to lower costs and expand care that isnít just the right thing to do Ė itís absolutely necessary.
"If we are going to help families, save businesses, and improve the long-term economic health of our nation, we must realize that fixing whatís wrong with our health care system is no longer just a moral imperative, but a fiscal imperative," the President said today. "Health care reform that reduces costs while expanding coverage is no longer just a dream we hope to achieve Ė itís a necessity we have to achieve."