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Sebelius is pick for HHS secretary

The New York Times and the Associated Press, quoting an anonymous White House source, are reporting that Pres. Barack Obama has chosen Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Sebelius' name had been at the top of insiders' lists ever since Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination for the post over his failure to pay more than $120,000 in taxes.

Sebelius is the former insurance commissioner of Kansas, a role in which she was cheered by consumer groups for blocking a merger between Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas with an Indiana company because of the possibility that is would raise premiums in her state.

In her seven years as governor, Sebelius, 60, has vetoed anti-abortion legislation, including a bill that would have allowed the state to collect medical records to justify late-term abortion and allow people to seek court orders to prevent women from obtaining late-term abortions. That would put her in agreement with Pres. Obama, who intends to rescind a "right to conscience" rule issued in the final days of the Bush administration that blocks federal funding of health care facilities that don’t allow their employees to bow out of medical procedures, such as abortion, to which they have moral objections. She has also been in charge of Kansas’ Medicaid program.

Obama—who has made health care reform a key theme for his administration and put a $634 billion "reserve fund" for it into his first budget—is expected to make the official announcement on Monday.

Image of Kathleen Sebelius/U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Dayton Mitchell via Wikimedia Commons

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