Sebelius, Others Govs Create Health Reform Group

If President Obama is going ahead with a major push on health reform this year, the National Governors Association (NGA) wants to make sure it's got a seat at the table.

At the tail end of their visit to Washington for the NGA's winter meeting, the governors announced Monday the formation of a health reform task force, one of the chief aims of which will be to make sure that the Obama administration and the Congress don't take health reform in a direction that detracts from ongoing state-based efforts, such as the Massachusetts universal coverage program.

"The Task Force is designed to identify and define gubernatorial priorities and to inform and advise the work of Congress and the administration," says an NGA press release.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) is on the task force, along with Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D), who has been reported as Obama's first choice to be secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D), who says he's no longer longer a candidate for HHS, is also a member of the group.

The remaining task force members are:

* Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (R), the NGA's vice chairman and the co- chairman of the task force
* Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm (D), the co-chairwoman of the task force
* Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D), the NGA chairman
* Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R)
* Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R)
* Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R)
* North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven (R)
* Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. (R)
* Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D)

- Jeffrey Young