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Sebelius resigns as head of HHS
April 11th, 2014
WASHINGTON – Kathleen Sebelius, who endured harsh criticism over the flaw-filled launch of the Obamacare website only to see the program surpass an administration goal with an estimated 7.5 million enrollees, has resigned as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
President Obama intends to nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, current director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace Sebelius.
A former Kansas governor, Sebelius was sworn in as HHS secretary in April 2009. Her time as head of HHS coincided with the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare. Sebelius came under fire last fall for the rocky rollout of HealthCare.gov, the website central to the law’s implementation.
Republicans in Congress were especially critical of what they saw as her lack of leadership shepherding through what they saw as an ill-conceived, ill-advised law. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, for example, characterized her last October as the "laughingstock of America."
But Sebelius, who insisted that America shouldn’t abandon the legislation, also admitted that Obama didn’t know of the website’s many technical problems until "the first couple of days" after it went live October 1. The website’s performance did improve significantly, prompting the calls for her resignation to die down as well. Earlier this month, in a letter to department employees, Sebelius reflected on Obamacare enrollment exceeding its target of 7 million as evidence of "the progress we’ve made, together," while stating "our work is far from over."
According to senior Obama administration officials, Sebelius told Obama 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.