With Daschle out, could Donna Shalala be coming back?

With former Sen. Tom Daschle withdrawing himself as secretary of Health and Human Services, University of Miami President Donna Shalala emerged Wednesday as a possible nominee.

Shalala, who held the same post during the Clinton administration and has been rumored to be on several short lists for posts in the Obama administration.

Shalala, 67, has said through her spokeswoman that she's happy at UM, which she has led since 2001. She could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

''The university has not been informed of any change,'' said spokeswoman Karla Hernandez.

But the opening of Shalala's old post may change matters. She was a popular HHS secretary from 1993 to 2001.

Last week, Shalala wrote an article for The Miami Herald's opinion page. It was called: "Health system can be mended. ''

In it, she expressed some strong views bringing affordable healthcare to all Americans -- and she also hosted an event at the UM Wednesday where the topic was tackled.

''We must stem the growing costs of healthcare, and if coverage is not nearly universal, large costs will continue to be shifted to the insured,'' she wrote. "Our healthcare system needs major changes, but there's no political agreement about what should be done. There is hope, to be sure, and optimism that the Obama administration and a new Congress will act quickly on healthcare, because it is a fundamental element of the nation's infrastructure that needs repair.''

A week ago, Shalala hosted the ''summit conversation'' at the UM sponsored by The America's Agenda Health Care Education Fund, an organization that fights for affordable, high quality healthcare for all.

Participants include former U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt, medical experts, business leaders and presidents of international labor unions.

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