Secretary of Health and Human Services
Kathleen Sebelius was sworn in as the 21st Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Tuesday, April 29, 2009. The Secretary governs one of the largest civilian departments in the federal government with more than 67,000 employees. HHS is the principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans by providing effective health and human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.
Secretary Sebelius has over 20 years of experience in state government, and has been a leader on health care issues for over a decade. She was first elected governor of Kansas in 2003 and was reelected in 2006. Throughout her tenure, Sebelius was lauded for her record of bipartisan accomplishment. She worked tirelessly to grow the state’s economy and to create jobs, to ensure that every Kansas child received a quality education, and to improve access to quality and affordable health care. As Governor, Sebelius expanded Kansas’ newborn screenings, put a renewed emphasis on childhood immunization and increased eligibility for children’s health coverage. More than 59,000 additional children were enrolled in health coverage during her time in office. Sebelius also worked closely with Kansas first responders and law enforcement to prepare for natural disasters and other emergencies. In 2005, Time magazine named her one of the nation’s top five governors.
Prior to her tenure as Governor, Secretary Sebelius spent 8 years serving as the Kansas State Insurance Commissioner. In that capacity, Sebelius turned her department into a steadfast advocate for Kansas consumers, and helped senior citizens save more than $7 million on prescription drugs. She also won praise for blocking the sale of Kansas Blue Cross/Blue Shield by an out-of-state, for-profit health care conglomerate, and for her role in drafting a proposed national bill of rights for patients. Previously, she was a member of the Kansas House of Representatives from 1986-1994.
Married to husband, Gary, a federal magistrate judge, for 34 years, they have two sons: Ned and John.