Update: Video of Governor Sebelius accepting President Obama's nomination is below.
Moments ago, President Obama announced his nomination of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services. SEIU President Andy Stern said last week in an interview with USA Today: "We have said publicly, we think Kathleen Sebelius would be a fabulous choice for the president. ...She's more than capable to run a big agency and be a good member of the president's team...so, that would be our top choice." As you can imagine, we couldn't be more thrilled by today's news.
Last week, President Obama declared before the nation that we cannot delay passing health care reform this year:
Once again, it will be hard, but I also know after a century that Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform, the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and our conscience long enough. So, let there be no doubt, health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.
SEIU has deployed unprecedented resources and staff toward winning health care reform this year--and we're excited to have a proven advocate for quality, affordable care at the helm of Health and Human Services.
As HHS Secretary, Gov. Sebelius will be heading up an enormous federal agency, with 65,000 employees and a $700 billion budget, according to the Washington Post. The agency contains countless departments and divisions dedicated to everything from protecting America's food supply to preventing outbreak of disease.
Governor Sebelius is a smart pick for HHS Secretary. While her record speaks for itself, we wanted to highlight a few of her accomplishments:
- Cutting waste, reducing costs.While governor, she erased a $1 billion budget deficit in her first year in office. During her tenure as insurance commissioner, the budget was reduced by 20%. Legal fees for the insurance department were cut by $3.5 million. She created a Health Care Cost Containment Commission to reduce administrative overhead.
- Advocating for health care reform. Among her many accomplishments in reforming health care, Gov. Sebelius lobbied hard for SCHIP, started a program to provide health care coverage to 22,000 more Kansas kids, and expanded prescription drug coverage for lower income residents who did not quality for state and federal insurance.
- Receiving national recognition for health care.
- More Kansans have more access to some form of coverage than residents of 30 other states.
- Kansas ranked #1 for health care affordability for employers in 2005. [Topeka Capital Journal, 4/10/05]
- Kansas was among the top 10 healthiest states in 2007, according Morgan Quinto Press. Factors included infant mortality rates, health care coverage, per capita expenditures for health care and child immunization rates.
- Sebelius was named "One of the 100 Most Powerful People in Health Care" by Modern Healthcare magazine for her "aggressive campaigns to force insurers to promptly pay claims."
Americans cannot afford to have this critical post vacant any longer. That's why SEIU is calling on the Senate to swiftly confirm Gov. Sebelius. Stand with us in calling for a swift confirmation: http://action.seiu.org/page/s/confirmsebelius
Tell Congress to work together for swift confirmation of Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Sign the petition to be delivered to the Senate.