Are we there yet? Almost.
Our understanding is that the White House could announce Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as HHS Secretary on Monday.
Given the nature of the ups and downs for the HHS Secretary search, we want to stress that things could change at any moment and we'll do our best to keep you up to date.
It would be a remarkable turn of events for Sebelius' nomination, which appeared to be finished just one week ago. Not too long ago, the administration had settled on Sebelius for the position. To read our coverage, click here and here.
Then, multiple people we trust on Capitol Hill said the nomination was in deep, deep trouble over the issue of abortion. Sebelius, a Roman Catholic, is understood to be pro-life but carried out pro-choice policies in her state and has links to a vocal pro-choice doctor in Kansas. Social conservatives in the Senate wouldn't allow the nomination to get through. To read our story on this, click here.
However, it appears as though the White House decided to step in due to President Obama's personal relationship with Sebelius and desire that she fill the Cabinet post. To read our story, click here.
The talk in town is that Nancy-Ann DeParle will be named to head up the White House Office for Health Reform. This, like everything else health, is subject to change.
Former New York City Health Commissioner Margaret Hamburg is still in line to be tapped as FDA Commissioner and Baltimore Health Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein is expected to be named principal deputy. We stress that this arrangement could also change.
So to summarize, assuming things remain as they are, HHS will look like this, with the possibilty of some of these candidates having dual roles in the White House:
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
HHS Deputy Secretary Bill Corr
HHS General Counsel Bill Schultz
CMS Administrator Don Berwick
CMS Deputy Administrator David Cutler
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg
FDA Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein
We would like to emphasize that, with the downfall of the Daschle nomination, the economists in the White House (Larry Summers) and at OMB (Peter Orszag) have filled the health care reform vacuum.
We'll tell you when we hear more.