President Obama announced Monday that Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is his choice for health and human services secretary, the Associated Press reported.
He also named Nancy-Ann DeParle as the director of the newly created White House Office for Health Reform.
The announcement comes just days before a White House summit on health care that will include lawmakers from both parties and representatives of major interest groups, including consumers, insurers and drug companies.
If the 60-year-old Sebelius wins confirmation, she faces a number of major challenges, including being the public face of White House plans for health care reform and dealing with the fallout from a long list of food and drug safety lapses that have tarnished the reputation of the Food and Drug Administration.
Sebelius is considered an experienced public official with a steady hand who can work across political lines, the AP reported.
She is actually Obama's second choice. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was the president's first choice, but Daschle withdrew his nomination after disclosing he had tax problems.
DeParle served in the Clinton administration as head of the agency that oversees Medicare and Medicaid, and also worked in Clinton's budget office.