WASHINGTON — As he attempts to overhaul the country’s health care system, President Barack Obama announced Monday that he’s chosen Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to serve as his health and human services secretary and Nancy-Ann DeParle to run the White House Office for Health Reform.
He said the two will be key advisers in his effort for health care reform that reduces costs while expanding coverage.
Obama introduced the two on Monday afternoon in the White House East Room, just days before he holds a White House summit on health care. Lawmakers from both parties and representatives of major interest groups, from insurers to drug companies to consumers, will attend.
The president also said he would release $155 million in the $787 billion economic stimulus measure to support 126 new health centers to give people more access to primary and preventive health care services.
Sebelius and DeParle will fill roles that the president wanted former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to hold as he tries to shepherd his health overhaul agenda through Congress. Daschle would have worn two hats: health secretary and head of a White House health reform office. But Daschle withdrew his nomination after disclosing he had tax problems. That left the new administration scrambling to find a substitute secretary.
“I didn’t come to Washington to take the easy route … I came here to work for the American people. I came here to deliver the sweeping demand the people demanded when they went to the polls in November,” Obama said.