JEFFERSON CITY — Former state Rep. Judy Baker, D-Columbia, is to be sworn in Monday in Kansas City as regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Baker, 49, who lost a congressional bid to Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., in 2008, was selected by Health and Human Service Secretary and former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius to oversee Region VII, which includes Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas.
Baker said that she was "very honored" and was excited for a "rewarding experience."
Three additional regional directors have been chosen for other areas of the country.
In a news release by the Health and Human Services office, Sebelius said the new directors were chosen for "their individual experience and knowledge of our department's most important issues."
Baker said that she applied for the position through U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., by expressing her interest in the position earlier this year.
McCaskill congratulated Baker in a post to her Twitter account Tuesday.
State House Minority Leader Paul LeVota, D-Independence, called Baker "a great advocate for Missouri." He said that her selection is "such great news that someone will be advocating good health in these four states."
Baker served in the Missouri House of Representatives from 2004 to 2008, where she was a member of several health-related committees. She said she has worked in the health care field for more than 25 years in both the private and public sector.
Currently Baker is a managing partner at Cura Advantage, a health care consulting firm based in Columbia. As of Monday she will have to relinquish her position there and work in the Health and Human Services offices in Kansas City.
According to the release, Baker will serve as a key representative of Sebelius, working with federal, state, local and tribal officials on a wide range of health and social service issues.
Baker said she plans on using her "expertise in health care systems and management" to help the "health care systems that are out of control."