News started trickling out late yesterday that Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, will be resigning today. The news comes after calls for her resignation back in October when the Healthcare.gov website launched and promptly crashed.
President Obama is expected to nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell to take the secretary position at a press conference today at 11am. Burwell is currently the director of the Office of Management and Budget, which is helps federal government departments across the board execute the President’s plans and projects, helping with budgeting and the legislative process. She’s been in that position since April 2013.
Sebelius became secretary of the HHS in 2009. Before that, she was the governor of Kansas. The troubled start of the healthcare enrollment period made her a household name, with late-night television taking shots at her and Republicans, already critical of the healthcare law, calling her a “laughingstock” and crowing for her ouster.
Despite the backlash, she stuck with the job, in part because she says she helped to get the legislation passed and wanted to see it through. She said in interviews at the time that President Obama had no clue that the site had technical difficulties until after the October 1 launch date. Since then, enrollment reached seven million and the insurance program has effectively been kicked into action. She tweeted yesterday that those wishing to #GetCovered still can.
“According to senior Obama administration officials, Sebelius told the President in early March that she thought the enrollment period would end well and, after that, she planned to step down. Even granted the initial uproar over the website, her decision to resign was on her own accord, the officials said,” reports CNN.
Still, there are reports that the administration had become frustrated with Sebelius over the website disaster, and The New York Times notes that when Obama appeared to triumphantly announce that seven million had signed up for health insurance, she wasn’t there. With midterm elections coming, Sebelius would be a liability. The hope, the story says, is that a new person in the position won’t have the same baggage that Sebelius does.
Still, because the GOP be GOP’ing, Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee is quoted saying, “No matter who is in charge of HHS, Obamacare will continue to be a disaster.”