Who's the new front-runner for HHS chief?

Ready for a new game of "Name that Prospective Health Official?" Here we go. She's governor of a Midwestern state, one who's known for governing in a bipartisan way. For eight years, she labored as her state's insurance commissioner; in that job, she successfully blocked the sale of Blue Cross and Blue Shield to an out-of-state company because it would have increased premiums. She was one of President Obama's earliest supporters.

Any guesses? If you said Kathleen Sebelius (photo), governor of Kansas, you're right. And if you suspect that she's up for one of the vacant pharma-oversight jobs in the Obama administration, double right. The Wall Street Journal and New York Times are reporting that Sebelius is the new front-runner for secretary of Health and Human Services, now that Tom Daschle can't take the job.

Perhaps the strongest evidence of her qualifications for the job? The fact that, in this tough economy, she resolved a state budget crisis, working with Republicans to forge a compromise. Given the fact that Gov. Arnold can't get California's budget together with his own party-mates, that's saying something. And given that healthcare reform is Job One for the HHS secretary--and healthcare is one area where Democrats and Republicans in Congress agree least--the ability to forge compromise is critical.

- read the NYT story
- see the WSJ Health Blog post

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