Sebelius Nod as HHS Secretary Heads for Full Senate

April 21, 2009 ( - A U.S. Senate committee has approved the nomination of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as the next Health and Human Services Secretary, with the vote now going to the full Senate.

A Washington Post news report said theSenate Finance Committee approved the nomination with the panel’s 13 Democrats backing the Kansas governor along with Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). The remaining five Republican panel members turned Sebelius down, the Post said.

According to the news report, Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) said he opposed the nomination because of concerns over how Sebelius would implement comparative effectiveness research, which aims to evaluate the most appropriate therapies for certain illnesses.

Kyl pointed to written answers to the committee supplied by Sebelius in which he said she had left the impression that the Obama “administration is unwilling to support pro-patient safeguards.” He added, “This should be a matter of concern to all of us,” the newspaper said.

The governor is considered a key player in Obama’s effort to dramatically overhaul the delivery of the U.S. health care system, the newspaper said. Obama’s first choice for the job, former U.S. Senator Thomas Daschle, withdrew from consideration after acknowledging tax errors in excess of $100,000 (see Daschle Drops Out ).

Sebelius also had tax issues. After her nomination was announced, she corrected three years of tax returns and paid more than $7,000 in back taxes after finding “unintentional errors.” (see Another Cabinet Appointment, Another Tax Issue ).