Sebelius tapped; country’s gain, Kansas’ loss

Seems everybody realizes what a gem we have as a governor — except Kansans.
Kathleen Sebelius has been asked to serve as the nation’s health and human services secretary — a most prominent position in a most perilous time for the country’s health care system.
“I’ll help her pack,” was the rude reply by Christian Morgan, head of the state’s Republican Party, as quoted in Sunday’s Kansas City Star.
Our own Sen. Derek Schmidt earlier offered to write a “letter of recommendation to the president on her behalf,” in efforts to speed up her departure — as if that would help get business done locally.
Shame on them both.

IT’S A LOSS and credit to Kansas that Sebelius has accepted the nomination to be in President Obama’s cabinet.
Sebelius has kept the state honest in its efforts to promote “green” energy in denying permits to construct coal-fired energy plants in Holcomb. The Sunflower Electric plants would emit 11 million tons of CO2 per year for the next 50-75 years and become the largest new source of CO2 emissions in the United States.
Despite the pollution, despite promised penalties to come from the federal government, state representatives and senators are again on track to push through legislation to build the power plants, of which 92 percent of the electricity produced would go to Colorado and Texas.
If the power plants succeed, Kansas again will take first on backwardness, much as it did when creationism was to be taught alongside evolution in our schools.

AS INSURANCE commissioner for eight years, Sebelius studied health reform. As governor, she tried to expand medical coverage to the poor with an increased tax on the sale of cigarettes but was rebuffed by Republicans. During her tenure appeals for better health care coverage have been consistently rebuked by Republican-dominated Legislatures. The percentage of uninsured in Kansas has multiplied seven times as fast as the national average, according to recent census figures. The state still re-mains below the national average of uninsured, 12.7 percent versus 15.3 percent.
As health secretary, Sebelius will have the unenviable task, of many, to extend health care coverage to more than 40 million uninsured people. Her dedication to the issue has proven she is up to the task.
Personally, she’s the model of health. At age 60, Sebelius is an avid runner, showing that physical fitness should be part and parcel of a healthy lifestyle, helping to prevent unnecessary health care costs.
As Kansans we should be proud Sebelius has been tapped for such a high-profile position.
Our only wish is that the confirmation process drags out long enough so that she will remain governor through the 2009 legislative session and keep Kansas on track one more time.

— Susan Lynn