Obama Makes Giant Steps towards a Full Health Care Team

Health and the 44th Presidential Administration (Part III). In three nearly back-to-back announcements, President Obama is working prodigiously to fill his leadership roster for health care. Of course, the most newsworthy was his selection of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary-designate of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The White House Office of Health Reform, however will be lead by Nancy Ann DeParle who headed up the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services during the Clinton administration. The administration may deem DeParle, a Beltway-insider, as having a greater amount of political clout to handle what is sure to be high-stakes negotiation within the White House Office of Health Reform. Both women have a depth of experience in health care financing and health insurance, a stakeholder group incidentally with a powerful voice in previous rounds of the health reform debate.

The Office of National AIDS Policy is set to be led by Jeffrey S. Crowley. With a background in public health, Crowley will bring the appropriate knowledge for managing the health of populations and the dynamics of epidemics in leading the effort to set an appropriate national policy. He will also serve as a member of the Domestic Policy Council. The President stated the following:

“In [AIDS and disability policy], we continue to face serious challenges and we must take bold steps to meet them. I look forward to Jeffrey’s leadership on these critical issues.”

Mary Wakefield has been appointed Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). President Obama made the following comments regarding her appointment:

“As a nurse, a Ph.D., and a leading rural health care advocate, Mary Wakefield brings expertise that will be instrumental in expanding and improving services for those who are currently uninsured or underserved. Under her leadership we will be able to expand and improve the care provided at the Community Health Centers which serve millions of uninsured Americans and address severe provider shortages across the country.”

For even more insight into this health braintrust, check out what’s on the bookshelf (a widget to the right) featuring books and articles with references and contributions from these political appointees. Several leaders are now in place and not a moment too soon. With the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 now signed into law and the more recent unveiling of the budget proposal for 2010, there is plenty of (health care) work to be done.

Sources:

Sebelius at HHS at the White House Blog and Administrator of HRSA Announced and Obama Names Head of AIDS Policy Office and Obama Picks Kansas Governor Sebelius as Health Secretary – washingtonpost.com.

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