Senate Finance Committee Approves Sebelius Nomination

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , April 21, 2009

In a 15-8 vote, the Senate Finance Committee approved Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius' nomination Tuesday morning as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Her nomination now goes to the Senate for a full vote.

No time has been scheduled for the confirmation vote, although it is expected to come soon. Two Republicans, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Pat Roberts of Kansas, supported Sebelius.

Before the committee vote, Sen. Jon Kyl (R Ariz.) said he was not satisfied with Sebelius' earlier explanations of her and the administration's position regarding of "comparative effectiveness," in which the government compares medical treatments to determine which are most effective. Kyl said that Sebelius, who was not in attendance for the panel vote, offered no guarantees that test results could be used by the government to deny payment for some treatments.

If confirmed by the Senate, Sebelius is expected to take a major role within the Obama administration of overseeing healthcare reform proposals.

Sebelius' nomination has not been without several bumps in the road. Several Republicans had voiced concerns about Sebelius' ties to a late term abortion physician in Kansas who had donated earlier to her campaign. Also, she recently paid nearly $8,000 in back taxes after discovering errors in her 2005, 2006 and 2007 tax returns.

Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at

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