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White House

 

« On The Air In NY-20 | Blog Home Page | Sebelius' State Of The Union Response »

Obama Taps Sebelius, Acknowledges Health Care Challenge

President Obama today announced the appointment of two women, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-Kan.) and Nancy Ann DeParle, to lead what may be the toughest fight of his presidency as he seeks to implement national health care.

"Health care reform that reduces costs while expanding coverage is no longer just a dream we hope to achieve, it's a necessity we have to achieve," Obama said at a rather Spartan ceremony in the East Room this afternoon

Sebelius and DeParle will fill separate rolls that were to have been handled by Tom Daschle before he withdrew his nomination last month. Obama said that in Sebelius, the nation will have a person of "remarkable intellect" and "unquestioned integrity" leading the Department of Health and Human Services. He also noted shared roots in saying she has the "kind of pragmatic wisdom you'll tend to find in a Kansan."

Her status as a Democratic governor in a ruby-red state was also key to the decision, as Obama said that any movement toward health care reform requires a "that focuses not on Democratic ideas or Republican ideas, but on ideas that work to rein in costs, expand access, and improve the quality of health care for the American people."

Obama closed his remarks by acknowledging the daunting challenge ahead, but played up the outsider rhetoric that was key to his success.

"I realize that there are those that simply don't believe Washington can bring about this change, and the odds are long," he said. "It's failed too many times. There are too many special interests and entrenched lobbyists invested in the status quo. ... But I also know this - I didn't come to Washington to take the easy route, or work for the powerful and the well-connected interest who have run this city for too long. I came to work for the American people. I came here to deliver the sweeping change that they demanded when they went to the polls in November."

Though not likely to be confirmed, Sebelius will likely participate in a health care summit at the White House this Thursday as the administration expands focus on its domestic agenda beyond the economy.