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Daschle appearing here at DNC - is looking forward to his job in the Obama administration.

Daschle appearing here at DNC - is looking forward to his job in the Obama administration.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle told CNN Thursday that he is excited about the possibility of heading Health and Human Services in an Obama administration where he would be a point person in helping to reform the nation’s healthcare system.

Daschle, a close advisor to President-elect Barack Obama, is expected to be nominated for this Cabinet-level position if he passes the vetting process. His top priority as HHS secretary would be healthcare, one of Obama’s signature policy issues during the campaign.

“I hope to have the plan enacted by next year, and then it will take several years to implement,” said Daschle, as he waited to board a plane in Washington, DC bound for Obama’s hometown of Chicago.

When asked if the U.S., in this current economic climate, could afford to reform the healthcare system, Daschle said it is imperative.

“We can’t afford not to do it,” he said. “If we do nothing, we’ll be paying twice as much on healthcare in 10 years as we do today.”

Daschle served as Democratic leader in the Senate from 1995 until he lost reelection in 2004. Representing South Dakota, Daschle was first elected as a congressman in 1978 and served in the House until he was elected to the Senate in 1986.

Daschle recently authored a book on healthcare titled “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.”

Source: CNN PoliticalTicker

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President-elect Barack Obama has chosen former U.S. Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle to be Health and Human Services secretary, news media reported on Wednesday, citing sources close to Obama’s transition team.

Daschle, of South Dakota, was an early supporter of Obama’s, encouraging the first-term senator from Illinois to make his presidential run.

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He currently serves as the head of Obama’s health-care policy group as the president-elect prepares to take office on January 20.

His appointment was reported by CNN and Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper.

Daschle served as the top Democrat in the Senate between 1994 and 2004, and was as majority leader when Democrats controlled the chamber between 2001 and 2003. He was elected to the Senate in 1986 and before that served eight years in the House of Representatives.

Since losing his re-election bid, Daschle has worked as a public-policy advisor for the law firm Alston and Bird.

He was not immediately available for comment.

Daschle was reported to be a candidate for Obama’s chief of staff before that job went to Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel.

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