|Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services|
|April 28, 2009-April 10, 2014|
|Elections and appointments|
|Nominated||March 2, 2009|
|Confirmed||April 28, 2009|
|Appointed||April 28, 2009|
|Appointed by||Barack Obama|
|Governor of Kansas|
|Kansas Commissioner of Insurance|
|Kansas State Representative|
|High school||Summit Country Day School|
|Bachelor's||Trinity Washington University|
|Master's||University of Kansas|
|Date of birth||May 15, 1948|
|Place of birth||Cincinatti, Ohio|
- 1 Biography
- 2 Career
- 3 Confirmation vote
- 4 Elections
- 5 Issues
- 6 Governorship
- 7 Analysis
- 8 Personal
- 9 Recent news
- 10 External links
- 11 References
She has been mentioned as a potential Democratic candidate to challenge Pat Roberts (R) for the Senate seat in Kansas in 2014. On April 17, 2014, a spokeswoman for Sebelius said that she was not interested in running.
Sebelius began her political career as a Kansas state legislator in 1987, and she also served Kansas as insurance commissioner and governor before becoming the Secretary of Health and Human Services. She is the daughter of former Ohio governor John Gilligan, making them the first father and daughter to hold the position of state governor.
Born Kathleen Gilligan, Sebelius was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and attended the Summit Country Day School. She graduated from Trinity Washington University before earning a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Kansas.
- 1970: Graduated from Trinity Washington University
- 1977: Earned Master's in Public Administration from the University of Kansas
- 1975-1977: Aide for the Kansas Department of Corrections
- 1977-1987: Director of the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association
- 1987-1995: Kansas state representative
- 1995-2003: Kansas Insurance Commissioner
- 2003-2009: Governor of Kansas
- 2009-2014: U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services
Sebelius was confirmed as the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services on April 28, 2009, by a vote of 65-31. All dissenting votes were cast by Republican senators, while eight Republicans voted in favor of confirmation.
|Kathleen Sebelius confirmation vote, April 28, 2009|
|Party||Votes for||Votes against||Total votes|
“Secretary Sebelius is continuing her important work at H.H.S. and is not considering a run for the Senate,” the spokeswoman said.
Sebelius won re-election as Governor of Kansas on November 7, 2006, by a margin of 17.5%, defeating Jim Barnett (R), Carl Kramer (L), Richard Lee Ranzau (Reform) and Randal G. Trackwell (write-in).
|Kansas Governor, 2006|
|Democratic||Kathleen Sebelius Incumbent||57.9%||491,993|
|Reform Party||Richard Lee Ranzau||0.6%||5,221|
|Write-in||Randal G. Trackwell||0%||4|
|Election Results via Kansas Secretary of State|
To view the full congressional electoral history for Kathleen Sebelius, click [show] to expand the section.
- See also: Obamacare lawsuits
Sebelius was named in both the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) v. Sebelius. The NFIB case was argued in June 2012 and the law was upheld over a challenge under the Commerce Clause. That decision was 5-4. Sebelius resigned prior to the Hobby Lobby decision but was in office when the case was argued by Department of Justice Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. The case was decided on June 30, 2014, in favor of Hobby Lobby. Four types of contraceptives were ruled to be exempt from employer mandated healthcare.
Meetings with Barack Obama
The Government Accountability Institute found in December 2013, that between July 12, 2010, and November 30, 2013, President Obama's public schedule had no one-on-one meetings between Obama and Sebelius, who was in charge of implementing his "most important initiative." During that timeframe there were 277 meetings with other cabinet members. In response to the claim that the two had not met over that period of time, Press Secretary Jay Carney stated, "Cabinet secretaries don’t regularly get entered into the visitor logs." A Department spokesperson backed up Carney's statements, claiming, "She is frequently at the White House for meetings related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, including dozens with the President in the last year alone. In fact, she met with the President just yesterday."
The Hill released the findings of a Freedom of Information Act request on February 13, 2014, showing evidence of 18 meetings between October 2012 and October 2013. Seven of those meetings were specifically on the topic of Obamacare. When questioned by the news outlet on why President Obama was not aware of the website problems, a HHS Department spokesperson responded, "She is frequently at the White House for meetings on a wide range of topics, including the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. As we have also said, the Affordable Care Act is more than just a website, and consistent with other significant policy initiatives, there was coordination across the Administration on a broad range of policy and implementation topics."
- See also: Healthcare.gov website rollout
Pat Roberts calls for Sebelius' resignation.
The launch of the Healthcare.gov website featuring the federal healthcare exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act was met with error messages, faulty information being sent to insurers and problems with direct enrollment through insurance companies. At an October 10, 2013, promotional event for the website, Sebelius stated, "Believe me, we had some early glitches, but it's getting better every day." Sen. Pat Roberts called for Sebelius' resignation over the struggling website on October 11, stating, "Enough is enough. Today I am calling on Kathleen Sebelius to resign her post as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Secretary Sebelius has had three and a half years to launch Obamacare, and she has failed." Sebelius testified before the House Energy and Commerce committee on October 30, 2013. During testimony, Sebelius stated: "In these early weeks, access to HealthCare.gov has been a miserably frustrating experience for way too many Americans, including many who have waited years, in some cases their entire lives, for the security of health insurance." Officials have not released an estimated timeframe for fixes.
On October 23, Rep. Jeanne Shaheen, (D-NH) called for an extension of the open enrollment period while the administration attempted to fix the problems, while Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-WV) was already drafting a bill to delay the individual mandate for a year.
Contracting practices investigation
On December 11, 2013, Sebelius asked the inspector general of the Health and Human Services Department to open an investigation into the contracting practices involved in the Healthcare.gov website. She said the investigation's results would help to prevent future issues like happened with the website rollout. She also announced the creation of a chief risk officer position in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Rite Aid partnership
On September 9, 2013, Sebelius announced a partnership with Rite Aid to promote the Affordable Care Act throughout the country. The company promised to place insurance agents at 2,000 of the chain's 4,600 locations nationwide. Agents are not to be affiliated with the insurers offering new exchanges, but they do receive commission on each policy taken out. Rite Aid also receives a commission per policy. Sebelius commented on the agreement, stating, "We weren't ever going to make this program work from Washington. This has to be an on-the-ground effort. Americans trust their pharmacists. Often the pharmacist is the on-the-ground health provider people see the most and know the best, so having this critical role in a pharmacy makes wonderful sense."
Steve Lonegan, a New Jersey candidate for U.S. Senate, spoke out against the agreement, stating, "If Rite Aid and the other big companies are so enthusiastic and think this is such a great plan, let it stand on its own two feet."
Organ transplant lists
In late May 2013, Sebelius was involved in debate over transplant lines for adult lungs. Policy requires that children under 12 in need of a lung transplant be placed at the bottom of the waiting list for adult lungs, while being placed at the top of the transplant list of childrens' lungs, though they are more rare. Ten year-old Sarah Murnaghan of Pennsylvania was in need of a lung transplant due to cystic fibrosis. She had been on the pediatric lung transplant list for 18 months. Sebelius ordered a review of the policy, but stated she "can't imagine anything worse than one individual getting to pick who lives and who dies." On June 5, 2013, a federal judge ordered Sebelius to allow Murnaghan to be added to the adult lung transplant list, giving her a higher probability of receiving a transplant, after hearing oral arguments in a lawsuit filed by Murnaghan's parents. A change to the policy would allow about 20 children annually to be added to the adult waiting list consisting of 1,600 patients. Dr. Arthur Caplan of the New York University Langone Medical Center explained that the reasoning behind the policy is that children generally fair worse than adults after the procedure. Caplan worried that the precedent set by the court ruling could result in politicizing medical judgements.
Sebelius vetoed legislation tightening the requirements and authorizing lawsuits against providers of late term abortions in 2009, just prior to filling the office of U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, as well as vetoing similar bills in 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005 and 2003.
Sebelius held the environment as a high priority while governor. She established Kansas "Green Teams" in 2005, aiming to encourage state employees recycle, cut down on waste and use environmentally friendly products. As part of a joint effort, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment launched the "Get Caught Recycling!" contest in 2006.
In 2008, Sebelius vetoed legislation intended to overturn the administration's rejection of permits for two coal-fired power plants in western Kansas. Proponents of the legislation claimed that vetoing the bill would mean higher energy costs for Kansans. Months later, Sebelius called for a stronger federal commitment to renewable energy sources while speaking at an American Wind Energy Association conference.
Sebelius vetoed concealed carry laws in 2004 and 2006, claiming, "While every law-abiding Kansan has a right to keep and bear arms, hidden weapons make it harder for law enforcement to do it's job, and they make Kansas' workplaces less safe."
In 2008, Sebelius signed into law a bill legalizing the possession of fully automatic weapons, which had been banned since 1933. The bill mainly benefited collectors and dealers delivering weapons to law enforcement agencies.
Sebelius did not support an April 2005 amendment to the Kansas Constitution that made same-sex marriage in the state unconstitutional. Sebelius said she supported the existing state law outlawing same-sex marriage, viewed it as sufficient, and therefore opposed the constitutional amendment. The amendment passed with 69 percent voter approval.
|U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Annual Budget|
|Year||Budget (in billions)||% Difference from previous year|
- Note: 2014 only represents the Department's budget request, not an enacted budget.
Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by OpenSecrets.org, Sebelius' net worth as of 2011 was estimated between $502,004.00 and $4,864,998.00. That averages to $2,683,501.00, which ranks 17th among executive branch members.
She is married to Gary Sebelius, a federal magistrate judge, with whom she has two sons.
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- Media coverage:
- CNN, "Sebelius sworn in as Health and Human Services secretary," April 28, 2009
- New York Times, "Health Secretary Resigns After Woes of HealthCare.gov," April 10, 2014
- NY Times, "Sebelius Said to Weigh Run for Kansas Senate Seat," accessed April 16, 2014
- NY Times, "Sebelius Says She’s Not Interested in Senate Run," accessed April 21, 2014
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "Biography: HHS Secretary," accessed June 7, 2013
- Governing, "Former Ohio Gov. Gilligan Dies," August 27, 2013
- Biography.com, "Kathleen Sebelius biography," accessed June 6, 2013
- GovTrack, "On the Nomination," April 28, 2013
- Christian-Science Monitor, "How John Roberts upheld health-care law while limiting congressional power," June 28, 2012
- Christian-Science Monitor, "Hobby Lobby 101: explaining the Supreme Court's birth control ruling," July 10, 2014
- Politico, "When Barry Met Kathy," December 5, 2013
- Politico, "Jay Carney pushes back on Kathleen Sebelius report," December 6, 2013
- The Hill, "Before O-Care debacle, Sebelius made many trips to White House," February 13, 2014
- Chicago Tribune, "Computer glitches, overloads hit health care exchanges," October 1, 2013
- Bloomberg, "Insurers Getting Faulty Data From U.S. Health Exchanges," October 8, 2013
- Politico, "Another obstacle to signing up for ACA crops up," October 21, 2013
- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Sebelius visit fails to reassure as health care website glitches persist," October 10, 2013
- Youtube, "Senator Roberts Call For Secretary Sebelius to Resign," October 11, 2013
- CNN, "Sebelius: 'I apologize, I'm accountable' for Obamacare website flaws," October 30, 2013
- Politico, "Kathleen Sebelius offers to testify on Obamacare," October 22, 2013
- Politico, "Tech 'surge' to tackle Obamacare websites," October 20, 2013
- NBC News, "Obama administration clarifies dates related to health care rollout," October 23, 2013
- Wall Street Journal, "Sebelius Calls for Review of Healthcare.gov Contracting Practices," December 11, 2013
- ABC News, "Kathleen Sebelius launches ObamaCare effort with Rite Aid in New Jersey," September 9, 2013
- Politico, "Kathleen Sebelius at center of storm over child's lung transplant," June 4, 2013
- Fox News, "Dying girl intubated as she awaits lung transplant," June 10, 2013
- New York Daily News, "Kansas Gov. Sebelius vetoes bill on late-term abortions; US Health and Human Services Sect. bid hurt," April 24, 2009
- Rasmussen Reports, "A Vice President for Abortion," May 26, 2008
- Project Vote Smart, "Sebelius Encourages State Workers to Get Caught Recycling!," July 22, 2006
- Environment News Service, "Kansas Governor Rejects Two Coal-Fired Power Plants," March 21, 2008
- Lawrence Journal-World, "Sebelius calls on feds to step up development of wind energy," June 2, 2008
- USA Today, "Kan. governor vetoes concealed weapons bill," April 16, 2004
- Daily Kos, "KS Gov Sebelius (D) Vetoes Conceal Carry," March 22, 2006
- Lawrence Journal-World, "Sebelius signs machine gun bill," April 22, 2008
- Boston Globe, "Kansans vote to ban same-sex marriage," April 6, 2005
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "Budget and Performance," accessed January 31, 2014
- OpenSecrets, "Kathleen Sebelius, 2011," accessed June 11, 2013
|U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services
| Succeeded by|
Sylvia Mathews Burwell
|Governor of Kansas
| Succeeded by|
|Kansas Insurance Commissioner
| Succeeded by|