KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Obama Taps White House Chief Of Staff To Head Treasury

News outlets report that although Jack Lew is known as a deficit hawk, he has been a defender of Medicaid and other safety net programs.

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Aide Is Treasury Pick
In 2011, as political leaders were designing the spending reductions that would begin this year if a larger deficit-reduction deal wasn't reached, some Republicans wanted to cut Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor. Mr. Lew bluntly interrupted to say Medicaid was off the table, prompting a GOP aide to hang up the phone, according to a person familiar with the exchange. Several months earlier, during a debate over government funding, the usually even-tempered Mr. Lew stormed out over a dispute with Republicans about what numbers both sides should use as their "base line" for negotiations (Paletta and Hook, 1/10).

The Washington Post: Obama Selects White House Chief Of Staff Jack Lew To Head Treasury
Ideologically, Lew is a deficit hawk, and he thinks Obama should be pursuing an aggressive effort to slow the growth of the federal debt. But he has deep roots in Democratic politics, and in previous negotiations he has passionately resisted efforts to slice the social safety net, particularly Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor (Goldfarb, Tankersley and Cillizza, 1/9).

The New York Times: Obama's Pick For Treasury Is Said To Be His Chief Of Staff
If Mr. Lew is confirmed in time, his first test as Treasury secretary could come as soon as next month, when the administration and Congressional Republicans are expected to face off over increasing the nation's debt ceiling, which is the legal limit on the amount that the government can borrow. Mr. Obama has said he will not negotiate over raising that limit, which was often lifted routinely in the past, but Republican leaders have said they will refuse to support an increase unless he agrees to an equal amount of spending cuts, particularly to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security (Calmes, 1/9).

Also, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will stay in her position for the second term --

Politico Pro: Sebelius Stays On As ACA Takes Effect
The announcement that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will remain in her job all but ensures that Sebelius will be around to oversee the implementation of the biggest pieces of the health law when they kick in next year. The White House announcement Wednesday was hardly a surprise, but it came as a quick follow-up to the news that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is stepping down. Within minutes of that news, a White House official said Sebelius, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Attorney General Eric Holder will all remain in their current jobs. But those were the only details the administration provided, and an HHS spokeswoman said Sebelius would have no further comment (Haberkorn, 1/9).

CQ HealthBeat: It's Official: Sebelius Will Remain In The Cabinet
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will stay for a second term in the Obama administration, HHS aides confirmed on background late Wednesday afternoon. The confirmation came after President Barack Obama announced that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis will be stepping down. There had been little speculation, though, that Sebelius would leave, given that the agency is deep in the midst of fully implementing the health care law by 2014 and she’s shown no sign of preparing to leave her post (Norman, 1/9).

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