The ACP Advocate Blog
by Bob Doherty
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
The road to health reform gets bumpier and bumpier ...
A few minutes ago, the White House announced that Tom Daschle withdrew his name from nomination for Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Faced with increasing Senate opposition over his failure to pay over $100,000 in back taxes, Daschle apparently concluded that he had no choice but to pull his name.
Daschle's withdrawal puts a big bump in the road to health reform.
With no obvious runner up, there likely will be weeks of delay in identifying, vetting, nominating, and confirming the next Secretary of HHS. In the meantime, HHS will be rudderless.
Rudderless at a time when HHS may soon have to figure out how to distribute tens of billions of dollars for health care and information technology included in the economic stimulus bill.
Rudderless at a time when the agency is required to conduct a policy review of regulations inherited from the Bush administration.
Appointments to other key agencies that fall under HHS, including the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will remain unfilled as long as the secretary position is vacant.
President Obama also loses his right hand man on health care reform. Daschle had been hand-picked by the president to spearhead the administration's health reform initiative, to the point of being given an office in the White House. But this role too is now gone. "I will not be the architect of America's health-care reform, but I remain one of its most fervent supporters," Daschle said in announcing his withdrawal.
Daschle's views on health care reform - in particular his support for primary care - provided a window into President Obama's health reform priorities. Now, this window is closed.
Daschle's withdrawal is hardly fatal to the President's efforts to reform health care. After all, we are only two weeks into the Obama administration, and there is time to get things right and get health care reform back on track.
But there also can be no denying that Daschle's departure is a setback for the new President and for his hopes to reform health care.
Today's questions: What kind of person do you think President Obama should be looking for to run HHS and carry out his vision for health care reform?
About the Author
Bob Doherty is Senior Vice President, American College of Physicians Government Affairs and Public Policy; Author of the ACP Advocate Blog
Email Bob Doherty: TheACPAdvocateblog@acponline.org.Follow @BobDohertyACP
- What is the State of the Nation's Health Care?
- Uh, oh!
- Where is the AMA on primary care?
- Where, oh where, will we find $ for primary care?
- Should sunshine on my pharma make me happy?
- Would you like some sticks to go along with your c...
- Day One
- Stimulate this: Part 2
- Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Health care to ge...
- Have you been RUCed?
The Wall Street Journal's blog on health and the business of health.
Health Affairs Magazine Blog
The Policy Journal of the Health Sphere.
The Health Care Blog
Everything you always wanted to know about the Health Care system. But were afraid to ask.
Vignettes and commentaries on the medical profession.
The New Health Dialogue Blog
From the New America Foundation.
DB's Medical Rants
Contemplating medicine and the health care system
Notes From The Road
Bloggers post from medical meetings, press conferences, and policy gatherings from the U.S. and around the world, providing readers with a tasty analysis of the buzz, the people, and the stories that don't get told.
A blog dedicated to medical education, news, and policy as well as career advising.
Disease Management Care Blog
An ongoing resource for information, insights, peer-review literature and musings from the world of disease management, the medical home, the chronic care model, the patient centered medical home, informatics, pay for performance, primary care, chronic illness and health insurance.
Medical Professionalism Blog
The Medical Professionalism Blog was created by the ABIM Foundation to stimulate conversation and highlight best practices related to professionalism in medicine.