Nominee Sebelius promises fast action on healthcare reform

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

WASHINGTON – The Senate Finance Committee will hold its confirmation hearing for health and human services secretary nominee Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius tomorrow.

The governor has promised to act quickly on the national healthcare crisis, telling the committee: "We can't fix the economy without fixing the healthcare system."

President Barack Obama nominated Sebelius for the post March 2. As governor, she has proposed financing healthcare initiatives by raising tobacco taxes and has called for universal health care for Kansas.

Sebelius supports President Obama's plan to give Americans the choice of government-backed or private insurance.

Yesterday, at a hearing with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, she said that a crackdown on medical fraud must be part of any healthcare overhaul, and called for "strike operations," to that effect.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D.-Mass., committee chairman, supported Sebelius' nomination yesterday, citing her "vision, skill and knowledge."

Also yesterday, in an all too familiar refrain among lawmakers this year, Gov. Sebelius informed the committee that she and her husband repaid $7,040 in back taxes and $878 in interest after discovering “unintentional errors” in their tax returns for 2005-7. The governor said she had erroneously taken tax deductions for certain mortgage interest and several charitable contributions.

Obama's first pick, Tom Daschle, withdrew in February over his failure to pay $128,000 in taxes until nominated.