Reports On Sebelius As HHS Secretary Are Premature, Source Tells CBS News
In the wake of a New York Times report that Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas was President Barack Obama's top choice to be secretary of health and human services, a White House source told CBS News that the Times article was overstated.
The source said that she was still "one of the top choices." Other reports have mentioned that Gov. Phil Bredesen, D-Tenn., Gov. John Kitzhaber, D-Ore, and Mr. Obama's transition chief of staff John Podesta are also under consideration for the position.
Sebelius, 60, a Democratic governor in a deeply "red" state, has a reputation for working in a bipartisan fashion. It's a style that might appeal to an administration eager to avoid the legislative snares that brought down the Clinton team's healthcare reform efforts when it introduces its own plan to extend coverage to the uninsured.
As governor, Sebelius pushed to give healthcare to all Kansas children from birth to age five.
In addition to serving as governor for six years, Sebelius worked as her state's insurance commissioner for eight years. While insurance commissioner, Sebelius helped draft a national patients' bill of rights and opposed the sale of Blue Cross and Blue Shield to an out-of-state company, the Times reports.
Former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., the president's first choice for the job, was forced to withdraw his nomination earlier this month following revelations that he failed to pay $128,000 in back taxes.
Sebelius could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. Her spokeswoman, Beth Martino, said she knew nothing about the speculation that her boss was Washington bound and had not spoken to Sebelius about it.
"As far as I know, she is really focused, as is evidenced, on the budget and the economy," Martino said. "She's the governor, that's her job, and that's what she's doing."
Sebelius' and Mr. Obama's paths may cross in the near future. The National Governors' Association meeting begins this weekend in Washington, D.C., and both Sebelius and Bredesen are expected to attend.
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