Mr. President, thank you. The President’s request that I lead the department charged with protecting the health of all Americans, and providing essential services to some of our most vulnerable citizens, is a responsibility I could not refuse. I’m deeply honored by your faith in me, Mr. President.
I’ve worked on health care issues for more than two decades — as a legislator, as an insurance commissioner, and as governor of the great state of Kansas. Mr. President, I share your passion and personal commitment to health care reform.
During the campaign, you talked about watching your mother spend her final days battling for her insurance benefits — a situation all too familiar to too many Americans.
I spent time with the First Lady as she reached out to ordinary women in cities and towns across America, who came together to share their struggles and fears, and voice hope for a change in the health care system that could save families from bankruptcy and deliver quality care to all.
I share your belief that we can’t fix the economy without fixing health care. The work won’t be easy, but bringing about real change rarely is.
Business and labor leaders, teachers and health care providers, policymakers at the state, local and national level, parents and children are ready to join this effort. This isn’t a partisan challenge; it’s an American challenge, and one that we can’t afford to ignore.
This election was a vote for change, and nowhere is that change more important than in reforming the health care system of America.
Nancy Ann DeParle and I have worked together in the past on health care issues, and I look forward to having a great partner in the effort moving forward.
Now, the decision to leave my job in Kansas as governor of the great Sunflower State is not easy. But you, Mr. President, reminded me it’s possible to help Kansas and help the United States at the same time. I can think of no great honor than to join you in this effort to transform our health care system and improve the lives of all Americans.
Thank you for giving me this challenge.
THE PRESIDENT: Nancy, you want to say a little something? Go ahead.
MS. DePARLE: Yes. I’ll just say that I’m really honored to be asked by President Obama to be part of his team working to lower costs and provide health care insurance and better quality to all Americans, and especially excited to be working with Governor and now Secretary-designate Sebelius. As she said, we enjoyed working together earlier in both of our careers, and I think it will be a great partnership.
So, thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: All right.
Thank you, everybody. We’re going to go get to work.
See a state-by-state breakdown of how many patients will benefit from the Recovery Act funding for community health care centers: