Daschle out as HHS candidate

By Jeff Hansel

The former Senate majority leader nominated by President Obama for secretary of Health and Human Services withdrew from consideration Tuesday, cutting Mayo Clinic’s closest connection to national health care reform.

Tom Daschle, a former senator from South Dakota, withdrew amid criticism over his failure to pay more than $120,000 in taxes and only recently correcting the mistake.

"I think I screwed up," the president told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. "And I take responsibility for it, and we’re going to make sure we fix it so it doesn’t happen again."


Daschle, a member of the Mayo Clinic board of trustees, could have gotten the clinic close to the Obama administration. Yet Mayo officials remain unfazed that Daschle withdrew from consideration and feel confident that they’ll still get input; Mayo leaders have already met with congressional leaders.

"We will remain committed to pressing forward, to bringing forward our ideas to the new administration on health-care reform," said Chris Gade, managing director of the Health Policy Center.

The center has developed a plan for how the president should fix the health care system based on input from thousands of patients, patient advocates, business leaders and health providers.

Bloggers have speculated that Dr. Denis Cortese, Mayo’s national CEO, might be named to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is part of the Health and Human Services department. Through a spokeswoman, Cortese said this week that he has not been asked to take the Medicare position.

Reporter Jeff Hansel covers health for the Post-Bulletin. Read his blog, Pulse on Health, at

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