Obama Health Secretary Pushes KennedyCare: 'What Would Teddy Do?'

HHS secretary says passing health reform would honor Ted Kennedy's legacy.

ByABC News
August 28, 2009, 2:48 PM

Aug. 28, 2009 — -- Democratic efforts to tie health reform to the memory of Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., continued Thursday when President Obama's health secretary visited a senior wellness center which is housed in what used to be the Kennedy Theatre in Washington, D.C.

"Hopefully, at every step of the way, people will ask themselves: 'What would Teddy do?' and move it forward," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

"If people are truly interested in honoring his legacy," she added, "the best possible legacy is to pass health reform this year and get President Obama a bill he can sign."

Visit ABC News' special section on Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Visit ABC News' special section on health care.

Sebelius, a co-chair of Kennedy's 1980 presidential campaign in Kansas, is the latest Democrat who is hoping that Kennedy's influence in death may be even stronger than it was when he was alive as Democrats push for President Obama's top domestic priority. Democratic officials hope that invoking Kennedy's passion for the issue will counter slippage in support for health care reform.

Immediately following Kennedy's death, some liberal activists like Ralph G. Neas of the National Coalition on Health Care, were hopeful that some of Kennedy's Republican friends, like Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, would be persuaded to return to the bargaining table.

There are few signs, however, of that happening.

"Frankly, I'm getting a little bit upset at these people, trying to take advantage of this and saying we now have to pass health-care reform because of Ted," Hatch told ABC News. "Well, Ted wouldn't want it passed if it wasn't good."