Natural Foods Merchandiser

Hopes high for Daschle as Health Secretary

President-elect Barack Obama has tapped Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle for the Secretary of Health and Human Services post in his new administration, and the reaction from Washington insiders has been almost universally positive.

Daschle, who represented South Dakota in the House and Senate, including 10 years as the Senate's Democratic leader, is well-versed on the healthcare issue. Earlier this year he published the book Critical: What we Can Do about the Healthcare Crisis, in which he asserts that the country's health care problems and economic woes are intimately tied. Many analysts are saying that Daschle's selection is a sign that Obama plans to make good on his campaign promises to aggressively reform the nation's health care system.

Those in complementary and alternative medicine circles are hopeful that Daschle will be supportive of their industries as he oversees several health regulatory agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration.

David Seckman, executive director and CEO of the Natural Products Association, said Daschle's Senate record shows that he will likely be an ally. "In the past, when he was a Senator, he supported complementary and alternative medicine bills," Seckman said. "He knows about DSHEA. He knows about the benefits of supplements and preventative medicine."

Thanks to his years of experience on Capitol Hill, Seckman predicts that Daschle will easily pass the nomination process. "I don't think he'll have any problems," Seckman said. "I think he'll sail through."

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