JEFFERSON CITY - Former state Rep. Judy Baker, D-Columbia, is to be will be sworn in Monday in Kansas City as the regional director of Health and Human Services.
Baker, 49, who lost a race for U.S. Congress in 2008 against Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., was chosen by U.S. Department Health and Human Service Secretary and former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to oversee Region VII, which covers Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas.
Baker said that she was "very honored" and was excited for a "very rewarding experience."
Luetkemeyer's Missouri-based spokesman Paul Sloca had no comment.
Three additional regional directors have been chosen for other areas in the country.
In a news release by the Health and Human Services office, Sebelius said the new directors were chose for "their individual experience and knowledge of our department's most important issues."
Baker said that she applied for the position through Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who sponsored Baker, by expressing her interest in the position earlier this year.
In a Tweet on Tueday McCaskill said "Congratulations to Missouri's Judy Baker, new Regional Director for HHS!"
Rep. Paul LeVota, D-Jackson County, 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 2004-08 on several health care committees. She said she has worked in the health care field for 25 plus 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 Federal Building out of Kansas City for Health and Human Services.
According to the release, Baker will serve as a key representative of Sebelius in 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."