Kathleen Sebelius

Health and Human Services Secretary (since April 2009)

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Why She Matters

A popular two-term Democratic governor in the predominantly Republican state of Kansas, Sebelius became President Barack Obama's choice for Health and Human Services secretary in late February 2009. Sebelius made the cut after former HHS nominee Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) withdrew his name from contention because of tax problems, leaving Obama with a big void as he launched a sweeping effort to revamp health care. The Senate confirmed her in April 2009 after some concerns from conservatives regarding her pro-abortion rights stance.

During her eight years as Kansas insurance commissioner, Sebelius regulated insurance companies and developed a reputation for standing up for consumers. She prevented Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Kansas from being sold to an out-of-state company, and attempted several changes to the health-care system that mostly failed.

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Spokeswoman says Sebelius ‘not considering’ Senate run

An HHS spokeswoman says the outgoing secretary is not weighing a bid.


Spokeswoman: Sebelius not considering US Senate

(Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

Departing U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is not considering running for the U.S. Senate, a spokeswoman said Friday.

Sebelius for Senate? It makes no sense.

The once-popular former governor might have been a viable candidate before Obamacare. But not now.

Wonkbook: Obama’s pick to replace Sebelius will have a lot on her plate

Sylvia Burwell has a lot more on her plate than just Obamacare.

Sebelius describes ‘terribly flawed’ Web site rollout, says she wasn’t pushed out

The outgoing HHS secretary looks back on her tenure and the troubled launch of health-care Web site.


AP source: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius resigning after rocky health care law rollout

AP source: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius resigning after rocky health care law rollout.

Why Kathleen Sebelius’s political career is (probably) over

Both nationally and at home, she’s become a symbol of the Obama’s administration’s most polarizing policy.


Kathleen Sebelius resigning from top HHS post

A White House official says Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning from the Obama administration.


Sebelius: Health care launch ‘terribly flawed’

Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the administration’s own predictions that the new health care law’s online sign-up system would be ready by Oct. 1 were “just flat out wrong.”


At a Glance

  • Career History: Governor of Kansas (2003 to February 2009); Kansas Insurance Commissioner (1995 to 2003); Kansas House of Representatives (1987 to 1995); Director, Kansas Trial Lawyers Association (1978 to 1986)
  • Birthday: May 15, 1948
  • Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Alma Mater: Trinity College, B.A. (political science), 1970; University of Kansas, M.P.A., 1977
  • Spouse: The Honorable K. Gary Sebelius
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
  • State Office: Office of the GovernorCapitol, 300 SW 10th Ave., Ste. 212STopeka, KS 66612-1590(877) 579-6757
  • Web Site

Path To Power

Sebelius' father, John Gilligan, was a one-term Democratic governor of Ohio, who considered a presidential run in 1976 (Sebelius is the first daughter of a governor ever to be elected to the same position). She spent much of her childhood in Cincinnati, Ohio, helping out on her father's city council campaigns and, by the time she was in college, Sebelius was campaigning to elect her father governor.

Sebelius graduated from Trinity College in Washington, D.C., in 1970. There, she met Gary Sebelius, a Georgetown Law student, whose father Keith Sebelius, was a Republican congressman from Kansas. They married in the Ohio governor's mansion in 1974 and moved to Topeka, Kansas. Gary is now a federal magistrate judge for the District of Kansas, and likes to refer to himself as the "First Dude."

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The Issues

Salon.com has called Sebelius "a passionate advocate of political moderation, as oxymoronic as that may seem." That's how the governor who twice vetoed a bill allowing Kansans to carry concealed weapons and supports abortion rights succeeds in a state that hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964.

As Kansas governor, Sebelius developed a reputation as an efficient manager when she resolved a $1.1 billion budget deficit by ordering a thorough review of state government spending. She cut costs with measures such as reducing the state's motor vehicle pool and standardizing business cards. "While her administration suggested the initiatives led to $1 billion in savings, critics said the effort was more show than substance," the Associated Press reported.

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The Network

Sebelius was an early Obama supporter, coming out in favor of the candidate in early 2008. She often represented him on the campaign trail, especially to women's groups.

Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) reportedly considered Sebelius as his vice presidential nominee in 2004.

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