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First 100 days: Sebelius is the pick

"Obama will introduce Sebelius on Monday afternoon in the White House East Room," the AP reports. "The announcement of his health and human services secretary nominee comes just days before the president holds a White House summit on health care. Lawmakers from both parties and representatives of major interest groups, from insurers to drug companies to consumers, will attend."

The Washington Post writes that Sebelius' health-care priorities in Kansas suffered defeats. "As governor, Sebelius has tried twice to raise Kansas's cigarette tax to expand medical coverage. Both times she was thwarted by Republican legislators, who objected to the tax increases and wanted a more market-based solution… Still, Sebelius has enjoyed some victories on the issue. She was successful in having Kansas join a multistate consortium that allowed Kansans to order prescription drugs from Canada, Britain and Ireland, often at a lower price than in the United States. She also has added tens of thousands of children from low-income households to state health programs. And as Kansas's elected insurance commissioner, Sebelius achieved national recognition when she blocked the sale of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, which she was convinced would raise premiums."

The Post also brings up the abortion angle. "Antiabortion activists have criticized Sebelius, who was raised Roman Catholic, largely because she vetoed a bill that would have required doctors who perform late-term abortions to report a reason for the procedure. Opponents also criticized her for hosting a dinner that included George Tiller, a Wichita abortion provider." 

USA Today says Sebelius "would bring expertise as a former state health insurance regulator but not deep ties to the members of Congress who will decide the fate of the president's health care proposals."

The New York Times reminds us, "Ms. Sebelius's nomination comes nearly a month after Mr. Obama's first choice, former Senator Tom Daschle, withdrew upon revealing that he had owed $128,000 in back taxes and paid it only after being selected. The White House used the time not only to vet Ms. Sebelius, but also to make sure that the two Republican senators from Kansas, Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts, would not oppose her confirmation."

Indeed, CBN's Brody speculates that Sebelius "may have just gotten the 'cover' she needs" after Brownback seemed "to signal his support for her in a joint statement he made with Kansas's other Senator Pat Roberts." 

The AP looks at the challenges ahead for Sebelius -- "A health care system overhaul, weak finances in Medicare, lapses in food safety."

The New York Times also looks at the difficulty of reforming the system in this current economic environment. (Then again, is there ever a good economic time to do this, politically?) "The powerful interests that dominate the health care industry could challenge even Mr. Obama's political deftness. To pay for any new plan, he would tax upper-income households and require new 'efficiencies' in health care. He has also proposed cutting federal payments to hospitals, insurers, drug companies and home health agencies, and that could turn powerful groups against him."

More: "Lobbyists for the industry say they are torn between their impulse to work with the president to win universal coverage and the need to fight against deep cuts. They are already on guard because of Medicare's precarious condition, warning the administration not to try to mend the program by reducing their payments."