Sebelius at HHS. What Might it Mean?

The New York Times and Reuters are reporting that Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has emerged as President Barack Obama‘s top choice for health secretary.

So what might this mean? Tom Daschle had written an entire book outlining his thoughts on healthcare reform. On the other hand, Sebelius has a record of eight years as Kansas Insurance Commissioner and two terms as Governor to review for clues on how she might try to steer healthcare reform at the federal level.

One thing we know about Sebelius is that she is a moderate Democrat from a mostly Republican state and an Obama ally, who has often been mentioned as a possibility for his Cabinet.

Here are some key healthcare initiatives that Sebelius has introduced to Kansas:

  • Under Gov. Sebelius Kansas streamlined and consolidated its health care purchasing into a single division. http://bit.ly/14tq4a
  • Gov. Sebelius organized a Cost Containment Commission of business leaders, providers, insurers, and patient advocates. http://bit.ly/14tq4a
  • KS now participates in the I-Save-Rx initiative, to buy drugs from state-approved pharmacies in Canada and Europe. http://bit.ly/14tq4a
  • This past year, Gov. Sebelius urged the Legislature to insure all Kansas children from birth to age five. It failed. http://bit.ly/14tq4a
  • Gov. Sebelius proposed state-subsidized private insurance plans for small businesses that didn’t offer health insurance. http://bit.ly/GRlkX
  • Gov. Sebelius proposed to fund KS health care reform with a $50 million tax increase on cigarettes and tobacco products. http://bit.ly/GRlkX
  • Gov. Sebelius’ critics complained the least expensive carton of cigarettes isn’t in line with neighboring states and Indian reservations.
  • Gov. Sebelius asked for a commission to seek ways to drive down the administrative costs of health care. http://bit.ly/GRlkX

This record seems to be consistent with President Obama’s promise to make healthcare reform evolve form the current employer-sponsored system with a hint of consumerism. It also points perhaps to a federal charter for health plans with a nod to promoting wellness and streamlining administrative costs.