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I Need to Learn to Spell "Sebelius"

March 1, 2009

I just realized I've been misspelling the name of Obama's apparent new pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Spelling it with an "i" instead of an "e" as the second letter. Well, I've got to get it right now, because it looks like I'll be referring to her quite a bit. She'll have one of the largest portfolios of any cabinet member, and certainly one of the most important. Her appointment comes as no surprise, but it's good news. Who will be the White House health czar then is the question? Maybe Obama won't appoint one after all, since that was perhaps a position cobbled up to give Daschle extra status in the pursuit of universal health care. Pride goeth before destruction... I first met Sebelius (the first daughter of a Governor--John Gilligan, Ohio, 1971-197--in U.S. history to be elected to that same position) early in her her first term as governor. She attended a Planned Parenthood event in Kansas City where I was speaking. As it happens, while I was in Kansas for that visit, I was simultaneously juggling legal strategy and national media in the wake of George Bush's signing of the federal abortion ban earlier that day. Sweet quirk of fate this, as RHRealityCheck reports on Sebelius's strong support for reproductive health in "She's Not in Kansas Any More". Ah, what a difference a vote makes. In the Obama ideal mold, Sebelius is noted for bipartisanship. She had to be effectively bipartisan in her reliably Republican state if she wanted to get anything accomplished. I'm heartened that Obama is now talking about health care more like Hillary Clinton did during the campaign than like his own incremental approach that strained to avoid antagonizing anyone but would not have covered everyone. Obama's proposed spending plan sets aside a $634 billion dollar reserve fund and charges Congress with the task of reforming the health care system. I've now written "Sebelius" six times and still try to type in an "i" instead of "e". I'll keep practicing because I think I'll be writing it numerous times over the next few years. Though it appears she won't have that health czar title, if confirmed, she'll certainly play a pivotal role in the efforts to gain health coverage for the 46 million uninsured Americans.