Kathleen Sebelius, one of the driving forces behind the implementation of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, is resigning her post as secretary of health and human services. Obama accepted Sebelius’ resignation this week and the president plans to nominate the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, officials tell the New York Times.
The news comes the same day that Sebelius revised the count of new enrollees in Obamacare up to at least 7.5 million. The surge in numbers before the March 31 deadline represented a victory, and a relief, for the White House after setting the benchmark for success at 7 million enrollees. The late burst of momentum for the ACA, which hit repeated speed bumps (if not roadblocks) during its months-long rollout is a marked improvement over the disastrous early days of the website HealthCare.gov. While Sebelius was not forced out, the Times reports, frustration with her handling of the launch of the President’s signature legislative achievement remained. Here’s more from the Times on the administration’s desire to turn the page from the Sebelius era.
The departure comes as the Obama administration tries to move beyond its early stumbles in carrying out the law, persuade a still-skeptical public of its lasting benefits, and help Democratic incumbents, who face blistering attack ads after supporting the legislation, survive the midterm elections this fall. Officials said Ms. Sebelius, 65, made the decision to resign and was not forced out. But the frustration at the White House over her performance had become increasingly clear, as administration aides worried that the crippling problems at HealthCare.gov, the website set up to enroll Americans in insurance exchanges, would result in lasting damage to the president’s legacy. Even last week, as Mr. Obama triumphantly announced that enrollments in the exchanges had exceeded seven million, she did not appear next to him for the news conference in the Rose Garden.