Updated on: June 22, 2012

Daschle Withdraws, Healthcare Reform In Limbo

Original story posted on: February 4, 2009

In a surprise move, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, President Obama's choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services, withdrew his name from the nominating process this past Tuesday. The withdrawal created a wave of speculation as the Administration grappled with not one, but two potential Cabinet members and threw the thrust of healthcare reform into political limbo.


Media sources earlier in the week were reporting that the disclosure of $140,000 in back taxes owed by Daschle plus the non-payment of taxes related to the personal use of a car and chauffeur, coupled with harsh criticism from Republicans and negative editorial commentary, prompted his move to withdraw.


Daschle said in a letter to President Obama that was made public that he didn't want to be "a distraction." The White House said the President accepted the decision "with sadness and regret."


Daschle's move came on the heels of similar action taken by Nancy Killefer, Obama's pick for the newly created post of chief performance officer. Killefer acknowledged that she had failed to pay unemployment taxes for domestic help in her household.


In December 2008, Obama said in a press conference that he was "pleased to announce two leading members of my health care team...Senator Tom Daschle and Dr. Jeanne Lambrew. I've asked Tom to serve not just as my secretary of health and human services but also as my director of my White House office of health reform. As such, he will be responsible not just for implementing our healthcare plan, he will also be the lead architect of that plan. Jeanne will serve as deputy director of this office working closing with Tom on these efforts."


Lambrew, who co-authored Daschle's book, "Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis," was picked by the President to be deputy director of the White House Office of Health Reform in early December.


In March of last year, Daschle proposed the creation of a healthcare equivalent to the Federal Reserve Board, the governing body that oversees the nation's central banking system. He envisioned a "Federal Health Board" to focus on costs, access and quality.


Then, in mid-January, shortly before his inauguration, the President announced that he would name Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids head William Corr as deputy secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services.


"Under the leadership of Tom Daschle and Bill Corr, I am confident that my Department of Health and Human Services will bring people together to reach consensus on how to move forward with health care reform," Obama said in a statement at the time.


There was no additional update available at press time.


Notable among the agencies in the HHS are the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.



Chuck Buck

Chuck Buck is the publisher of RACmonitor and is the program host and executive producer of Monitor Monday.

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