Former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle today was formally nominated as President-Elect Obama’s appointee to head the Department of Health and Human Services. In the press conference announcing the pick, President-Elect Obama announced plans for major health care reform "this year:" "The time has come – this year, in this new Administration – to
modernize our health care system for the twenty-first century; to
reduce costs for families and businesses; and to finally provide
affordable, accessible health care for every American" (hat tip to Ezra Klein).
Back when announcement of the appointment first leaked, Ezra wrote that choosing Daschle meant Obama was committed to health care reform:
CNN is reporting
that Tom Daschle will not only be Health and Human Services Secretary,
but also health reform czar under the Obama administration. This is the
clearest evidence yet that Obama means to pursue comprehensive health
reform. You don’t tap the former Senate Majority Leader to run your
health care bureaucracy. That’s not his skill set. You tap him to get your health care plan through Congress.
You tap him because he understands the parliamentary tricks and has a
deep knowledge of the ideologies and incentives of the relevant
players. You tap him because you understand that health care reform
runs through the Senate. And he accepts because he has been assured
that you mean to attempt health care reform, and will not waste his
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said of the appointment,
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Tom Daschle is an excellent choice to lead the Department of
Health and Human Services. Former Sen. Daschle is a strong advocate
for health care reform and understands the need to improve access to
quality, affordable health care. We are delighted by his nomination and
look forward to working closely with Sen. Daschle on promoting and
protecting the full range of women’s health care, including family
planning and prevention services. Planned
Parenthood is excited about the opportunity of having true partners in
the White House and HHS committed to promoting and protecting women’s
On Rewire, Kay Steiger asked whether Daschle would prioritize coverage of women’s health care services in health care reform. To some reproductive health advocates, his political acumen means he’ll be able to make real progress on health care reform. Others worried that he wouldn’t be willing to fight hard enough to ensure that essential women’s health care services, like contraceptive coverage, would be included in health care reform.