Now, there’s no easy formula for fixing our health care system. There will be many different opinions and ideas about how to achieve this reform. And that’s why I’m bringing together business and labor, doctors and insurers, Democrats and Republicans, as well as ordinary Americans from all walks of life to the White House this Thursday for a historic health care forum.
What is required, however, is a commitment to reform that focuses not on Democratic ideas or Republican ideas, but on ideas that work to rein in costs, expand access, and improve the quality of health care for the American people.
Kathleen Sebelius embodies such a commitment to bipartisan accomplishment. She is, after all, the daughter of a Democratic governor and the daughter-in-law of a Republican congressman.
But she’s forged a reputation for bipartisan problem-solving in her own right. As governor of Kansas, she inherited a billion-dollar deficit, but by eliminating waste and inefficiency while making smart choices, she balanced the state budget without raising taxes. And time and again, on energy and education, jobs and health care, she’s bridged the partisan divide and worked with a Republican legislature to get things done for the people of Kansas.
And that’s why I’m so proud that one of the most esteemed political leaders of our time, Bob Dole, is here, as well as my former colleague, Pat Roberts, here as well — people in Kansas, we stick together. And I’ve got my own Kansas roots here, so I’m particularly pleased to be joined by so many — so many Kansans.
Now, Kathleen has all — also knows health care inside and out. She’s won praise for her expertise from stakeholders across the spectrum, from consumer groups to insurers. Over eight years as state insurance commissioner, she refused campaign contributions from insurance companies and protected the people of Kansas from increases to their premiums by blocking a takeover of the state’s largest insurer. She helped draft a proposed national bill of rights for patients and served as the president of the National Associate of Insurance Commissioners.
And as a governor she’s been on the front lines of our health care crisis. She has a deep knowledge of what the burden of crushing costs does to our families and businesses. That’s why she fought to guarantee Kansans access — access to quality, affordable health care, and sought to secure it for every Kansas child from birth to age five.
Kathleen has a remarkable intellect, unquestioned integrity, and the kind of pragmatic wisdom you’ll tend to find in a Kansan. I know she will bring some much-needed grace and good humor to Washington, and she will be a tremendous asset to my Cabinet.
Now, as critical as the task of health care reform is, Governor Sebelius will also oversee a department with wide-ranging responsibilities essential to the well-being of the American people. We rely on the Food and Drug Administration to ensure the safety of our nation’s food and drug supply. We depend on the Center for Disease Control to make certain our nation