Ezra has a clearly-written piece outlining the idea that the presumed new OMB head, Peter Orszag will be nearly as important on the health care reform beat as Tom Daschle's appointment to HHS.
If you're interested in health care reform, the appointment of Peter Orszag to be director of the Office of Management and Budget is second only in importance to the the elevation of Tom Daschle to health czar and HHS secretary...
Orszag will be coming from the Congressional Budget Office, OMB's legislative cousin. There, he's shown an almost single-minded focus on health care reform. He's added dozens of health care analysts to the staff, reconstructed the health policy division's management structure, and is readying to release two major books on health policy options and CBO's health care scoring models that will be extremely central in how Congress looks at building a health care bill. Amidst all that, he's toured the country giving a slide show about the problems of the health care system, the overwhelming danger it poses to our fiscal condition, the incredible inefficiencies that beset the delivery, and the research that suggests reform could not only save money but also improve care. He's also acted as a powerful and credible counterweight to those who counsel incrementalism, or delay, on health reform.
Add this to our previous list of signs and portents that Obama is taking health care reform seriously and in a big way.
In any case, the economics team is shaping up as Orszag at OMB, Bill Richardson at Commerce, Tim Geithner at Treasury (and perhaps Larry Summers
at Council of Economic Advisors as future fed chair or other senior adviser role.)
At the same time, the health team is Tom Daschle at HHS, Orszag in a supporting role, and CDC still to be named (currently Julie Gerberding).
Hey, maybe Obama will name a Surgeon General as well. Did you know that currently the Acting Surgeon General is Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H.? That's the problem - no one else knew, either. For the new administration to treat the SG as a serious and visible appointee (taking nothing away from Dr. Galson) would be a sorely needed boost for public health and prevention.
Speaking of public health, although Homeland Security isn't often thought of as a health position, it is vital for emergency preparedness, including public health emergencies. Obama's choice at DHS, Janet Napolitano, co-chaired the 2006 National Governors Association pandemic flu task force. Governors can appreciate the need to plan for emergencies at state levels, so that's useful.
In any case, with Orszag at OMB, maybe all of the above will be properly funded.