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Sebelius to HHS; Rahm’s Brother for Health Czar?

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius will be named HHS Secretary on Monday; will Rahm’s brother Zeke become the new White House Health Czar?

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius accepted President Obama’s nomination to become Health and Human Services Secretary this afternoon, according to administration officials. Sebelius will replace former senator Thomas A. Daschle, who withdrew from consideration last month.

"This evening, the President asked Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to serve as his Secretary of Health and Human Services, and she accepted," one administration official said. "The President will formally announce the nomination on Monday afternoon at the White House."

Several Democratic sources said, however, that it is less likely the moderate Democrat will be offered the job of director of a new White House Office of Health Reform, a post Daschle had negotiated for himself as a way to increase his influence in the new administration.

And who is auditioning for that White House office? Why, it’s Rahm Emanuel’s big bro:

Ezekiel J. Emanuel, big brother to White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, is quickly emerging as a key player in Obama’s health-care overhaul, the biggest push to expand coverage in two decades.

Known as Zeke, Emanuel has labored behind the scenes on the issue for years, well-known to people who follow it closely. But he has significantly raised his political profile by signing on as a top adviser to White House budget chief Peter Orszag. And there he was Thursday, a fidgety presence at the back of the briefing room, nodding in approval as Orszag detailed the budget, and trading conversation with aides around him.

In addition to his connection to the White House chief of staff, Zeke brings policy expertise to bear:

But it’s hardly just his last name. Zeke Emanuel is a renowned oncologist and policy expert with degrees from Amherst, Harvard and Oxford who has written extensively about overhauling the nation’s health care system. He has been chair of the Department of Bioethics at the Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health. He sat on the Clinton administration’s health care task force. And in June, he published a book advocating replacing the current health care structure with a voucher system.

Rahm Emanuel called his brother’s ideas a “game changer” during a June interview on the Charlie Rose Show, but declined to endorse it, citing the political realities of selling such a plan.

He sat at the head of the table, but without a nametag, at the Fiscal Summit on Monday:

When the session ended, more than a few people rushed to his side, seeking introductions and reminding Emanuel of how they knew each other.

There was bound to be a power struggle between Daschle and the White House policy and budget experts over health care. This is why Daschle insisted on having a line into the White House as the health czar and the perch at health and human services.

The appearance, in Politico, of the profile of Zeke Emanuel shortly before the announcement of the HHS appointment makes me wonder what kind of job Kathleen Sebelius is signing up for, exactly.

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