So we know what Obama’s priorities are, don’t we? And it’s good to see that health care, still, is one of them despite (or especially because of, to hear him tell it) the downturn in the economy.
Today, President-elect Barack Obama announced former U.S. Senator and Minority and Majority Senate leader, Tom Daschle will head up the new administration’s efforts to reform health care (upon confirmation). As Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and Director of the White House office of health reform, Obama said Daschle would be not just responsible for implementing a new health care plan, but also be the lead architect of that plan.
I’m not particularly interested in a debate of Obama’s decision to choose Daschle. No doubt many Republicans will find something in that choice to criticize; many Democrats will be fine with it. The more interesting thing (in my opinion) is that this was among the first high profile set of appointments Obama has made; the third following his economic and foreign relations teams.
It’s encouraging that health care is among Obama’s top priorities, especially given our economic dire straits. Obama clearly recognizes that the rising cost of health care is a major component of our financial problems, as individual families and households, as well as collectively as a nation.
“If we want to overcome our economic challenges, we must also finally address our health care challenge,” he said during his press conference this morning.
And, to that end, Daschle is the perfect man for the job. His commitment to health care reform is no secret. And he echoed Obama’s thinking about the relationship between health care costs and our economy.
“At a time that there is so much at stake, there is no question that fixing health care is and has been for many years our largest domestic policy challenge,” Daschle said. “Addressing our health care challenges will not only mean healthier and longer lives for millions — it will also make American companies more competitive, address the cause of half of all of our personal bankruptcies and foreclosures, and help pull our economy out of its current tailspin.”
I hope he’s right.