Daschle nominated to head HHS, appeals for American input

Tom Daschle is "known for speaking softly but acting boldly," President-elect Barack Obama said today in announcing the former Senate Majority Leader as his choice for Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and Director of the new White House Office on Health Reform.

"Tom brings more than just great expertise to this task. He brings the respect he earned during his years of leadership in Congress," President-elect Obama said in a press conference announcing the nomination. "He knows how to build consensus across the aisle. And he has the trust of folks from every angle of this issue: doctors, nurses and patients; workers and businesses; hospitals and consumer groups -- all of whom will have a seat at the table as we work on this vital issue."

In his remarks, Secretary-designate Daschle appealed to Americans to play an active role in health reform by signing up to lead a health care discussion -- a series of meetings everyday people are hosting, in which they'll gather ideas and report back to the Transition's Health Policy Team. The team will then incorporate the results into its recommendations for the Obama-Biden administration.

Take a moment now to sign up to lead a health care discussion -- and see below for photos and video from today's announcement.

He said it's up ordinary Americans to "share their ideas about what’s broken and how to fix it" by leading a health care discussion.

"The President-elect and I are committed to an open and inclusive process for health reform that goes from the grassroots up," he said. "I'll be attending some of these discussions, seeing the ideas generated by others, and look forward to reporting back to you on what we find."

Senator Daschle emphasized that reforming the system is not just essential for the health of individuals, but for the health of the economy.

"Addressing our health care challenges will not only mean healthier and longer lives for millions," he said. "It will also make American companies more competitive, address the cause of half our personal bankruptcies and foreclosures, and help pull our economy out of its current tailspin...That's why it's so exciting."

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