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Statment of Senator Edward M. Kennedy at the Nomination Hearing for HHS- Designate Kathleen Sebelius

This hearing will come to order. Our hearing today is on the confirmation of Kathleen Sebelius to serve as our next Secretary of Health. Few debates in Congress touch our lives as profoundly and personally as health care. Over the past ten months, I’ve seen our health care system up close. I’ve benefitted from the best of medicine. But we have too many uninsured Americans. We have sickness care and not health care. We have too much paperwork and bureaucracy. Costs are out of control. But today we have an opportunity like never before to reform health care. And we need a Secretary of Health who has the vision, the skill, and the knowledge to help us get there.

Governor Kathleen Sebelius has those traits and more. She was named one of the five top governors by Time magazine. She earned that accolade by reaching across the aisle to find solutions that worked. Her Healthy Kansas initiative put thousands of people on the road to better health. As insurance commissioner and as governor, she has been a strong voice for the rights of patients and consumers.

When it comes to reforming our health care system, we know that the challenges are great. But I have confidence that Governor Sebelius can lead the way to common sense solutions. Although her duties as Secretary may begin with health reform, they do not end there. Food safety. Drug safety. Medical research. Disease prevention. All these and more need urgent attention. She is the right person for the job. And I strongly support her nomination.

Governor, we welcome you today and thank you for your willingness to serve in this important position. I turn now to Senator Enzi for his statement. As always I thank him for his leadership on this committee.