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Minister of health in United States of America Kathleen Sebelius

"When we talk about health care, we always keep in mind that we are not just talking about saving money or increasing efficiency. We are also talking about providing a higher quality of life. When people are healthy, they miss fewer days of work and get more done. They spend more time at home and less time in doctors' offices. They can take care of their grandkids. They can play softball...They can get a good night of sleep. Kathleen Sebelius, The Commonwealth Fund's 12th Annual Symposium on Health Care Policy

Kathleen Sebelius was sworn in as the 21st Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on April 28, 2009. As Secretary, she leads the principal agency charged with keeping Americans healthy, ensuring they get the health care they need, and providing children, families, and seniors with the essential human services they depend on. She also oversees one of the largest civilian departments in the federal government, with nearly 80,000 employees.

Since taking office, Secretary Sebelius has been a leader on some of the Obama administration's top priorities. As the country's highest-ranking health official, she played a key role in the passage of the historic Affordable Care Act and is now leading its implementation. She also coordinated the response to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus. And under her leadership, HHS has provided a wide range of services from health care to child care to energy assistance to help families weather the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Secretary Sebelius has answered President Obama's call to form partnerships across government to improve the lives of Americans. She is the Co-Chair, with Secretary Vilsack, of the President's Food Safety Working Group. With Attorney General Holder, she chairs the new Health Care Fraud Prevention and Action Team (HEAT). She has teamed up with Secretary Duncan improve early childhood education. And as part of President Obama's Year of Community Living, she is working with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Donovan to improve the lives of seniors and people with disabilities who wish to live at home.

Secretary Sebelius has been a leader on health care, family, and senior issues for over 20 years. As Governor of Kansas from 2003 to 2009, she fought to create jobs, improve access to affordable health care, and give every Kansas child a quality education. In 2005, Time Magazine recognized her achievements by naming her one of America's Top Five Governors.

Before being elected Governor, she served from 1995 to 2003 as the first Democrat to be elected Kansas Insurance Commissioner. In that role, she was recognized as a strong advocate for consumers while streamlining the Department's budget. For her efforts, Governing Magazine selected her as their Public Official of the Year for 2000. Prior to her service as Insurance Commissioner, she was a member of the Kansas House of Representatives from 1987 to 1995.

Secretary Sebelius is the first daughter of a governor to be elected governor in American history. She holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Kansas and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Trinity Washington University. She is married to Gary Sebelius, a federal magistrate judge. They have two sons, Ned and John.

Kathleen Sebelius minister of health in USA

The roots of the Department of Health and Human Services go back to the earliest days of the nation:

See Secretaries of HEW/HHS

  • 1798 Passage of an act for the relief of sick and disabled seamen, which established a federal network of hospitals for the care of merchant seamen, forerunner of today's U.S. Public Health Service.
  • 1862 President Lincoln appointed a chemist, Charles M. Wetherill, to serve in the new Department of Agriculture. This was the beginning of the Bureau of Chemistry, forerunner to the Food and Drug Administration.
  • 1871 Appointment of the first Supervising Surgeon (later called Surgeon General) for the Marine Hospital Service, which had been organized the prior year.
  • 1878 Passage of the National Quarantine Act began the transfer of quarantine functions from the states to the federal Marine Hospital Service.
  • 1887 The federal government opened a one-room laboratory on Staten Island for research on disease, thereby planting the seed that was to grow into the National Institutes of Health.
  • 1891 Passage of immigration legislation, assigning to the Marine Hospital Service the responsibility for medical examination of arriving immigrants.
  • 1902 Conversion of Marine Hospital Service into the Public Health and Marine Hospital Service in recognition of its expanding activities in the field of public health. In 1912, the name was shortened to the Public Health Service.
  • 1906 Congress passed the Pure Food and Drugs Act, authorizing the government to monitor the purity of foods and the safety of medicines, now a responsibility of the FDA.
  • 1912 President Theodore Roosevelt's first White House Conference urged creation of the Children's Bureau to combat exploitation of children.
  • 1921 The Bureau of Indian Affairs Health Division was created, the forerunner to the Indian Health Service.
  • 1930 Creation of the National Institute (late Institutes) of Health, out of the Public Health Service's Hygienic Laboratory.
  • 1935 Passage of the Social Security Act.
  • 1938 Passage of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
  • 1939 The Federal Security Agency was created, bringing together related federal activities in the fields of health, education and social insurance.
  • 1946 The Communicable Disease Center was established, forerunner of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The Cabinet-level Department of Health, Education and Welfare was created under President Eisenhower, officially coming into existence April 11, 1953. In 1979, the Department of Education Organization Act was signed into law, providing for a separate Department of Education. HEW became the Department of Health and Human Services, officially arriving on May 4, 1980. Some highlight dates in HEW and HHS history:
  • 1955 Licensing of the Salk polio vaccine.
    The Indian Health Service was transferred to HHS from the Department of Interior.
  • 1961 First White House Conference on Aging.
  • 1962 Passage of the Migrant Health Act, providing support for clinics serving agricultural workers.
  • 1964 Release of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health.
  • 1965 Creation of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, making comprehensive health care available to millions of Americans. Also in 1965, the Older Americans Act created the nutritional and social programs administered by HHS' Administration on Aging. In addition, the Head Start program was created.
  • 1966 International Smallpox Eradication program established -- led by the U.S. Public Health Service, the worldwide eradication of smallpox was accomplished in 1977. Also in 1966, the Community Health Center and Migrant Health Center programs were launched.
  • 1970 Creation of the National Health Service Corps.
  • 1971 National Cancer Act signed into law.
  • 1975 Child Support Enforcement program established.
  • 1977 Creation of the Health Care Financing Administration to manage Medicare and Medicaid separately from the Social Security Administration.
  • 1980 Federal funding provided to states for foster care and adoption assistance.
  • 1981 Identification of AIDS. In 1984, the HIV virus was identified by PHS and French scientists. In 1985, a blood test to detect HIV was licensed.
  • 1984 National Organ Transplantation Act signed into law.
  • 1988 Creation of the JOBS program and federal support for child care.
    Passage of the McKinney Act to provide health care to the homeless.
  • 1989 Creation of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (now the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality).
  • 1990 Human Genome Project established. Passage of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, authorizing the food label. Also, the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resource Emergency (CARE) Act began providing support for people with AIDS.
  • 1993 The Vaccines for Children Program is established, providing free immunizations to all children in low-income families.
  • 1995 The Social Security Administration became an independent agency.
  • 1996 Enactment of welfare reform under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act.
    Enactment of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
  • 1997 Creation of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), enabling states to extend health coverage to more uninsured children.
  • 1999 The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 is signed, making it possible for millions of Americans with disabilities to join the workforce without fear of losing their Medicaid and Medicare coverage. It also modernizes the employment services system for people with disabilities. Initiative on combating bioterrorism is launched.
  • 2000 Publication of human genome sequencing.
  • 2001 The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid is created, replacing the Health Care Financing Administration.
    HHS responds to the nation's first bioterrorism attack -- delivery of anthrax through the mail.
  • 2002 Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness created to coordinate efforts against bioterrorism and other emergency health threats.
  • 2003 Enactment of the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, the most significant expansion of Medicare since its enactment, including a prescription drug benefit.

Secretaries of HEW and HHS

  • April 11, 1953 - July 31, 1955 Oveta Culp Hobby
  • August 1, 1955 - July 31, 1958 Marion B. Folsom
  • August 1, 1958 - January 19, 1961 Arthur S. Flemming
  • January 21, 1961 - July 13, 1962 Abraham Ribicoff
  • July 31, 1962 - August 17, 1965 Anthony J. Celebrezze
  • August 18, 1965 - March 1, 1968 John W. Gardner
  • May 16, 1968 - January 20, 1969 Wilbur J. Cohen
  • January 21, 1969 - June 23, 1970 Robert H. Finch
  • June 24, 1970 - January 29, 1973 Elliot L. Richardson
  • February 12, 1973 - August 8, 1975 Caspar W. Weinberger
  • August 8, 1975 - January 20, 1977 David Mathews
  • January 25, 1977 - August 3, 1979 Joseph A. Califano, Jr.
  • August 3, 1979 - January 20, 1981 Patricia Roberts Harris
  • January 22, 1981 - February 3, 1983 Richard S. Schweiker
  • March 9, 1983 - December 13, 1985 Margaret M. Heckler
  • December 13, 1985 - January 20, 1989 Otis R. Bowen, M.D.
  • March 1, 1989 - January 20, 1993 Louis W. Sullivan, M.D
  • January 22, 1993 - January 20, 2001 Donna E. Shalala
  • February 2, 2001 - January 26, 2005 Tommy G. Thompson
  • January 26, 2005 - January 20, 2009 Michael O. Leavitt
  • April 28, 2009 - Kathleen Sebelius

A U.S. state is any one of 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government.

map of USA states


  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska
  3. American Samoa
  4. Arizona
  5. Arkansas
  6. California
  7. Colorado
  8. Connecticut
  9. Delaware
  10. District of Columbia
  11. Florida
  12. Georgia
  13. Guam
  14. Hawaii
  15. Idaho
  16. Illinois
  17. Indiana
  18. Iowa
  19. Kansas
  20. Kentucky
  21. Louisiana
  22. Maine
  23. Maryland
  24. Massachusetts
  25. Michigan
  26. Minnesota
  27. Mississippi
  28. Missouri
  29. Montana
  30. Nebraska
  31. Nevada
  32. New Hampshire
  33. New Jersey
  34. New Mexico
  35. New York
  36. North Carolina
  37. North Dakota
  38. Northern Marianas Islands
  39. Ohio
  40. Oklahoma
  41. Oregon
  42. Pennsylvania
  43. Puerto Rico
  44. Rhode Island
  45. South Carolina
  46. South Dakota
  47. Tennessee
  48. Texas
  49. Utah
  50. Vermont
  51. Virginia
  52. Virgin Islands
  53. Washington
  54. West Virginia
  55. Wisconsin
  56. Wyoming


Last update: 14 June 2010
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