Daschle named HHS secretary

December 1, 2008

President-elect Obama selects former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle as HHS secretary

PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA MOVED QUICKLY in selecting former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle as secretary of Health and Human Services. Daschle has been a close advisor to Obama and now will be the administration's point person on moving health reform legislation through Congress. Reform advocates consider the selection a sign that the Obama administration will seek to fulfill its promises to make health reform a top priority.

Daschle's familiarity with health policy issues is evident in the book he co-authored earlier this year: "Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis." With less administrative experience than the governors who preceded him, Daschle will need capable deputies to oversee key HHS agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and CMS.

The former senator from South Dakota lost his seat in a hard-fought battle in 2004. He was criticized then as being too much of a Washington insider, and his nomination provoked similar comments from some parties. Most observers regard the appointment as agreement that consummate political skill is needed to reform the nation's healthcare system.