Obama taps Kan. Gov. Sebelius as health chief - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Obama taps Kan. Gov. Sebelius as health chief

President Barack Obama looks on as Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 2, 2009, after he nominated her for Health & Human Services Secretary. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds) President Barack Obama looks on as Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 2, 2009, after he nominated her for Health & Human Services Secretary. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama turned to Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius Monday to help him overhaul a health care system whose cost has risen four times as fast as people's wages in recent years. Obama introduced Sebelius as his choice to be secretary of health and human services and Nancy-Ann DeParle, a health policy figure during the Clinton administration, to head the White House Office for Health Reform.

"There's no easy formula for fixing our health care system," Obama said. But he added: "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 change the people demanded when they went to the polls in November."

Obama brought Sebelius and DeParle to East Room of the White House on Monday afternoon, 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. He said he was mindful of the difficulty ahead as he takes steps toward universal health care coverage, expecting tough choices and likely trade-offs.

Said Sebelius: "The work won't be easy, but bringing about real change rarely is."

Sebelius, who must be confirmed by the Senate, 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.

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