Sylvia Mathews Burwell did not write many of the Clinton-era health policy memos now online at the Clinton Library website, but she got the carbon copies.
The library’s searchable online index turns up 26 hits for document files that refer both to “Sylvia Mathews” and “patients’ bill of rights,” and 72 that refer to “Sylvia Mathews” and “health insurance.”
One of the highlights of her appearances in Clinton administration health policy memos came on May 12, 1997, when she advised Elena Kagan about a Partial Birth Abortion Act bill that Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., was about to introduce.
Kagan, who is now a U.S. Supreme Court justice, was a domestic policy advisor at the White House.
Burwell — who added the surname “Burwell” when she married Stephen Burwell in February 2007 — is now President Obama’s nominee to succeed Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Burwell was staff director of the National Economic Council from 1993 to 1995; chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin from 1995 to 1997; and deputy chief of staff to President Clinton from 1997 to 1998.
“The First Lady asked Sylvia for a copy of the amendment that Sen. Daschle plans to offer tomorrow,” Kagan writes in a memo amendment to Bill Clinton, at a time when Burwell was Clinton’s chief of staff. “Sylvia suggested that I send it to you too.”
Earlier, on Jan. 27, 1997, Mathews wrote in a memo to Kagan, “I told Rubin how wonderful you are and the next time you are both in the same place, I will make sure that I introduce you all.”