Murkowski Votes Against Confirmation of Gov. Sebelius to be HHS Secretary
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today issued the following statement after voting against the nomination of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services:
“The well being of the Indian Health Service is of tremendous importance to Alaska. We have more Native people per capita than any other state in the nation. The Indian Health Service has been chronically underfunded in administrations of both parties. When President Obama nominated Tom Daschle to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, I was encouraged because Tom has proven himself to be a champion for Indian health. When Tom Daschle withdrew his name I was hoping that President Obama would look for another champion of Indian health in a successor candidate.
“I spoke at length with Gov. Sebelius about this issue during the confirmation process and submitted a series of specific written questions aimed at drawing out the level of her knowledge of the challenges facing the tribes of her own home state and those of Native people nationally.
“I sadly conclude that Gov. Sebelius has failed to demonstrate enthusiasm for improving the health condition of our Nation’s first people. I could not conclude that she would champion the Indian Health Service’s funding needs against those of historically more influential components of the department. Her apparent lack of interest in the Indian Health Service and on Native issues in general has been disappointing.”
“Now that Gov. Sebelius has been confirmed I hope that she will spend time with tribal leaders to gain a personal appreciation for the challenges they face delivering healthcare to our first peoples. Alaska has one of the most innovative Native health delivery systems in the Nation. Former HHS Secretaries Tommy Thompson and Mike Leavitt have both traveled to Alaska to observe our good work. I would be honored to host a visit by Gov. Sebelius to Alaska’s Native communities.”