Sebelius considered for U.S. health secretary

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius is a leading contender for U.S. health secretary, a post that will spearhead the effort to overhaul the healthcare system, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

President Barack Obama’s first pick for the job of secretary of health and human services, former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, withdrew because of personal tax issues in a setback for the administration.

Sebelius, a moderate Democrat from a mostly Republican state and an Obama ally, has often been mentioned as a possibility for his Cabinet.

A U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Sebelius was among the top tier of candidates under consideration but no decision has been made.

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Sebelius was the top choice.

Sebelius is expected to be in Washington from Saturday through Tuesday for a meeting of the National Governors’ Association, according to the Times.

Obama has set as one of his top priorities establishing a plan to control soaring healthcare costs and provide healthcare coverage for some 46 million uninsured Americans.

Reporting by Caren Bohan; Editing by David Wiessler