Sibelius and Blue Cross in Kansas
[When Ms. Sebelius served as state insurance commissioner, she] cast herself as a consumer champion by pushing to protect patients from rationed care by health maintenance organizations and rapid discharges by hospitals. She declined campaign contributions from the industry she regulated and, in her boldest move, rejected the 2002 purchase of the state’s largest insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, by Anthem Inc., based in Indianapolis.
No other state insurance commissioner had blocked such a sale, but Ms. Sebelius argued that it would result in higher premiums for Kansans. Litigation ensued, and she ultimately was upheld by the State Supreme Court.
“She rode that decision all the way to the governor’s office,” said Sandy Praeger, the current insurance commissioner and a Republican.
Good news, that running against the insurance companies works politically. Nothing wrong with Kansas there!
Legislators in both parties said that as governor, Ms. Sebelius’s efforts to reach across the aisle had seemed more strategic than instinctually bipartisan. She is skilled at exploiting the divisions between moderate and conservative Republicans [rather like Daschle], and has successfully forged coalitions with one caucus or the other on redistricting, school financing and the state budget, among other issues.
That, too, could be worse. Here's what worries me:
Legislative leaders say Ms. Sebelius presses her case in occasional meetings and news conferences, but rarely cajoles or twists arms.
And in Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, we have a master arm-twister. Rahm's brother, Mini-Rahm, opposes single payer. Even Sibelius wants to do the right thing -- single payer -- I'm afraid she'll be outgunned. I mean, who's more likely to have Obama's ear? Rahm, or Sibelius?