George W. Bush nominates EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt as health secretary

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Monday, December 13, 2004

Washington, DC - US President George W. Bush has chosen former Utah governor Mike Leavitt to succeed the outgoing Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson. Leavitt, 53, who took over the Environmental Protection Agency last year, will succeed Tommy Thompson if the Senate confirms him. He would oversee implementation of new prescription drug benefits for people on Medicare and Bush's plans to allow religious groups to apply for federal funds to provide treatments for addiction.

Leavitt joined Bush's cabinet in 2003, and has been called a 'fine executive' by the President. The move comes as the Bush administration is trying to find someone to fill the post of Secretary of Homeland Security, after nominee Bernard Kerik withdrew concerning immigration issues with a former nanny.

The department oversees Medicare and Medicaid for senior citizens, the safety of drugs and the nation's food supply through the Food and Drug Administration and it administers the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thompson is the ninth cabinet member to leave after Bush's re-election, and his departure was not seen as a shock by many Washington insiders. Those nine departures mark the largest second-term Cabinet overhaul in more than 30 years. Presidents Reagan and Clinton each had seven Cabinet changes for their second terms. The last to have nine was Richard Nixon in 1972. The Senate must confirm all of the nominees. Confirmation hearings have been scheduled for Margaret Spellings, nominated for education secretary, on January 6, and Condoleezza Rice, nominated for secretary of state, on January 18-19.