Obama taps Daschle for health chief

Dec. 11, 2008 at 2:45 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Tom Daschle, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's choice to lead the nation's health agency, will be Obama's point person for healthcare reform.

As Department of Health and Human Services secretary nominee and director for a new White House office of health reform, the former U.S. senator "will be responsible not just for implementing our healthcare plan, he will also be the lead architect of that plan," Obama said.

"The time has come this year in this new administration to modernize our healthcare system for the 21st century, to reduce costs for families and businesses, and to finally provide affordable, accessible healthcare for every single American," Obama said.

The former U.S. Senate Democratic leader "has the trust of folks from every angle of this issue -- doctors, nurses, and patients, unions and businesses, hospitals and advocacy groups, all of whom will have a seat at the table as we craft our plan," Obama said.

In his recent book "Critical: What We Can Do About the Health Care Crisis," Daschle, 61, said he supported universal healthcare coverage for the nation's 46 million uninsured Americans.

"Addressing our healthcare challenges will not only mean healthier and longer lives for millions," Daschle said, "it will also make American companies more competitive, address the cause of half of all of our personal bankruptcies and foreclosures, and help pull our economy out of its current tailspin."

Obama also announced Dr. Jeanne Lambrew, who co-authored the book with Daschle, would be deputy director at the White House office and his assistant at HHS. Lambrew has served at a senior level in both the Office of Management and Budget and the National Economic Council.

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