Former Sen. Tom Daschleâ€™s appearance before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today marked the first confirmation hearing for the slate of Senate confirmable nominees named by President-elect Barack Obama over the past two months.
During the hearing, which marked Chairman Edward Kennedyâ€™s return to Capitol Hill after treatment for a brain tumor, Daschle repeatedly emphasized his commitment to improving efficiency and innovating Americaâ€™s health care system. Senators also challenged him to improve civil servantsâ€™ morale within HHS and to make the department more effective and accountable.
Daschle spoke of the health crisis facing Native Americans, citing that more than 40 percent of South Dakotaâ€™s Pine Ridge reservationâ€™s residents age 40 and older have diabetes and the life expectancy is 47 years old. He pledged to focus efforts to improve the quality of care the Indian Health Service provides.
â€œI will also make sure the health disparities affecting all other minority and underserved populations are acknowledged and addressed,â€ he said.