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US health nominee faces confirmation hearing

US health nominee faces confirmation hearing

President Barack Obama's choice for health secretary, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, goes before a Senate panel for her confirmation hearing Thursday.
Sebelius, a Democrat, is pledging to improve government health insurance plans for the elderly, disabled and poor, with an increased focus on prevention and primary care, according to the comments in testimony prepared for delivery Thursday to the Senate Finance Committee.
Overseeing those giant government-run insurance programs. Medicare and Medicaid, would be a major responsibility. Sebelius acknowledges that improvements are needed in quality and efficiency.
As secretary of health and human services, Sebelius would run a department of 67,000 employees and a budget of more than $700 billion. Besides Medicare and Medicaid, the regulatory Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health would be in her purview.
Sebelius, 60, is Obama's second pick to head the department. Former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle withdrew from consideration while apologizing for failing to pay $140,000 in taxes and interest.
The Obama administration disclosed earlier this week that Sebelius had some tax problems of her own. Earlier this week, the Obama administration disclosed that Sebelius had filed amended tax returns for three years. An accountant she'd hired to scrub her taxes in preparation for her confirmation hearings found "unintentional errors" totaling about $7,000.
Sen. Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, told reporters Wednesday he felt Sebelius made "a good-faith effort" to pay her taxes correctly in the first place and the errors should not count against her.
"I think we wouldn't be having this hearing if we didn't think the tax things were pretty well taken care of," said Grassley.
Sebelius said the tax mistakes involved charitable contributions, the sale of a home and business expenses. In a letter to senators Tuesday, she said she filed the amended returns as soon as the errors were discovered.
Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Democrat, issued a statement Tuesday supporting Sebelius.


Updated : 2021-10-25 13:14 GMT+08:00