Today, the United States Senate confirmed Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services on a 65-31 vote. The confirmation comes at a critical moment, as the Obama administration deals with swine flu emergency that has surfaced in the past week. The confirmation completes President Obama’s cabinet and adds a voice to the administration that will be critical in dealing with an anticipated reform of the nation’s health insurance system.
TheSenate Finance Committee, chaired by Max Baucus (D-MT), could begin to hold mark-ups of health insurance reform legislation as early as June of this year, with full consideration by the Senate this fall. The inclusion of budget reconciliation language, on health insurance reform and student loan reform, in the FY10 budget resolution that is emerging from Congress could mean that health insurance reform would need only a simple majority to pass, and would not be threatened by a filibuster led by the minority party. However, the White House and Congressional leaders have expressed a desire to pass health insurance reform in a bi-partisan fashion.