Mar 2, 2009
President Obama made it official today: Democratic Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is his pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Sebelius, 60, has been governor since 2002. For eight years prior to that, she served as her state's insurance commissioner, winning kudos for blocking an insurance company merger that she said would have raised health premiums for consumers.
"Kathleen Sebelius has a remarkable intellect, unquestioned integrity, and the kind of pragmatic wisdom you’ll tend to find in a Kansan," Obama said in announcing the appointment. "I know she will bring some much-needed grace and good humor to Washington, and she will be a tremendous asset to my cabinet."
Feb 25, 2009 | 14
The need to reform the U.S. healthcare system was a key theme of President Obama's address to Congress last night, and there's early word that the budget proposal he's set to release tomorrow will create a 10-year, $634 billion "reserve fund" to pay for it.
The Washington Post, citing administration documents and an unidentified White House official, is reporting that the money would come from reducing tax breaks for the wealthy (which Obama said last night includes those who make more than $250,000 a year) and lowering payments to insurers, hospitals and physicians.
The plan, according to the Post, would force private insurers who sell Medicare managed-care plans to undergo a competitive bidding process, which would save an estimated $175 billion over the next decade. Drug makers would have to increase their medication rebates to Medicaid patients from 15 percent to 21 percent. And hospitals that have high readmission rates would be paid less by Medicare, using a system of flat fees for the first hospitalization and 30-day follow-up.
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