Inside This Issue - News
Sebelius chosen to guide HHS
March 16th, 2009
WASHINGTON – The choice of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as nominee for secretary of health and human services won praise from pharmacy groups that believe she will effectively support President Barack Obama’s initiatives for health care reform.
Sebelius was officially nominated on March 2, when Obama also announced that Nancy-Ann DeParle will head a White House office dedicated to his health reform efforts.
Responding to the nomination of Sebelius, National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and chief executive officer Steven Anderson said her selection illustrates the Obama administration’s commitment to health care reform and her experience in Kansas should prove valuable in her new post.
“As a Democratic governor in a Republican state, Kathleen Sebelius has a record of bringing all parties together to achieve important policy outcomes for Kansas,” Anderson explained. “Those skills will serve her well here in Washington during the national health care reform debate.”
Sebelius’ experience in administering the Medicaid program for Kansas should provide her with critical insights regarding the importance of pharmacy, according to Anderson.
“The pharmacy industry continues to combat regulations that would cut Medicaid reimbursement rates for pharmacy and, in turn, could impact beneficiaries’ access to prescription medications,” he noted.
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) also praised the selection of Sebelius for the post, which the organization said would make her the government’s point person in the effort to reform the health care system.
In a joint statement NCPA president Holly Henry and executive vice president and chief executive officer Bruce Roberts said that if she is confirmed, “we hope to provide Gov. Sebelius with practical solutions that treat community pharmacies fairly in Medicare and Medicaid programs, which will ensure patient access to their services.
“We also share the goals of emphasizing medication adherence, appropriate generic drug utilization, measurable quality care and embracing the new technologies that will help to lower the cost of health care,” Henry and Roberts stated.
Sebelius is Obama’s second nominee for secretary of health and human services. His first, former senator Tom Daschle, withdrew after admitting that he had owed $128,000 in back taxes, which he paid only after being nominated.
Administration officials say Sebelius is well versed in health care issues, having served two terms on the Kansas state insurance board before being elected governor.
She is also credited with having bipartisan appeal, since she was elected to a second term as governor despite being a Democrat in a strongly Republican state. When she ran for reelection, she even recruited a former chairman of the state Republican party to serve as lieutenant governor.
However, newspaper accounts note that despite her willingness to work across party lines, Sebelius has been frustrated in her efforts to change the health care system in Kansas. In particular, she was unable to convince state legislators to go along with a plan to raise taxes on tobacco to fund an expansion of government health care coverage in the state.
In her new post Sebelius will have the advantage of working with a Democratic Congress.
DeParle, who will serve as director of the White House Office for Health Reform, has been commissioner of the Department of Human Services in Tennessee. Previously she worked in the Clinton administration, handling budget matters for federal health care programs and managing Medicare and Medicaid.