Health Secretary Tommy Thompson Steps Down, McClellan Pick Likely

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 3, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Health Secretary Tommy Thompson Steps Down, McClellan Pick Likely Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 3, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Adding to the turnover the Bush administration is experienced as it begins to head into a second term, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson announced Friday that he will be leaving his post.

"It’s time for me and my family to move on to the next chapter in our life," Thompson said at a news conference

During his tenure, the former Wisconsin governor defended President Bush’s strong positions in favor of funding abstinence education and against using taxpayer dollars to back any new embryonic stem cell research.

The Bush administration spent $190 million on adult stem cell research and put in place a policy preventing the use of taxpayer funds for any new embryonic stem cell research.

Mark McClellan, a doctor and economist who heads the Medicare health care program for the elderly, will likely replace Thompson, according to an Associated Press report. He is the brother of White House press secretary Scott McClellan.

The departure is no surprise. Thompson indicated in September that he planned to leave to take a high-paying job somewhere else regardless of the outcome of the presidential election.

In addition to abstinence and stem cell research, Thompson frequently touched on high profile pro-life issues while at the HHS department helm:

* In March 2002, the National Cancer Institute’s web site contained misleading information alleging that researchers found evidence of report bias in studies showing the abortion-breast cancer link. Upon learning of the error, Thompson directed the agency to remove the information. NCI later adopted a position claiming no abortion-breast cancer link exists.

* In 2002, Thompson unveiled a new Bush administration policy allowing unborn children to be covered under the federal-state CHIP program that provides health insurance coverage for children in poor families. Pro-life groups hailed the decision as another way to help pregnant mothers and reduce the financial factors that compel some women to have abortions.

* Thompson launched an investigation in August 2003 to determine whether Advocates for Youth, a sexual education organization, used federal dollars to lobby against abstinence-only education.

* In August 2004, Thompson told the Alabama Health Department that it was not required to distribute the morning-after pill that sometimes causes abortions.

Thompson becomes the eighth member of President Bush’s 15-member Cabinet to resign.