Taking it on the chin, Sebelius resigns before mid-terms, Nov-Feb enrollment period

Taking it on the chin, Sebelius resigns before mid-terms, Nov-Feb enrollment period

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Kathleen Sebelius Resigns
Kathleen Sebelius Resigns

WASHINGTON, April 11, 2014  – “I will miss her advice, her friendship. I will miss her wit.”  And with those words, President Obama shutters aside Kathleen Sebelius, the one time governor of Kansas where she enjoyed a remarkable career, being named as one of the top give governors by Time Magazine.

The president outlined her many accomplishments, saying Kathleen has been here through “the long fight” and that “she’s got bumps” and “I got bumps” but we did it for all those in America… that have “suffered due to the uncertainty of healthcare.”

With Republicans bringing up the failures of Obamacare as a mid-term speaking point, and a possible hope that the upcoming November – February enrollment period will go smoothly, rewriting the Affordable Care Acts history, Sebelius’ resignation may be in the best interest of Democrats.

 Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Director of OMB, is President Obama’s choice to replace embattled Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who is retiring after her five-year roller coaster term. Many Republicans have been calling for her resignation following the disastrous  rollout of Obamacare.

Denis R. McDonough, the White House chief of staff said  that Sebelius has been in conversation with the president regarding her future with the administration. He said that rising Obamacare enrollment numbers meant that it might be a good time to change leadership of Health and Human Services to an individual who is not “the target of political ire.”

“What was clear is that she thought that it was time to transition the leadership to somebody else,” he said. “She’s made clear in other comments publicly that she recognizes that she takes a lot of the incoming. She does hope — all of us hope — that we can get beyond the partisan sniping.”

White House officials say that the 65-year-old Sebelius resigned; she was not forced out. However, despite previous public declarations of support, the White House has been making their frustrations over Obamacare known. They are concerned that the failed rollout will historically damage the president’s signature legislation even as they are now reaching enrollment goals.

Sebelius is being lauded by the White House as a “fierce advocate” for the Affordable Care Act. McDonough said, “She’s fearless in her defense of this idea at the heart of the Affordable Care Act. The president has commented to me countless times how much he admires that.”

Could it be the move is to eliminate a target for Republicans prior to the mid-term elections this fall? And let’s not forget that there is yet another Open Enrollment period, November 15, 2014 – February 15, 2015 and only time will tell us if the next enrollment proceeds better than the first.   Because even though 7 million have signed up, the United States Census Bureau, reports that in 2009 there were 48.6 million people in the US (15.7% of the population) who were without health insurance.


Republicans have long called for Sebelius’ head. They ridiculed her for the rollout of Obamacare even as the president defended her, Obama saying during an NBC interview that she “doesn’t write code; yeah, she wasn’t our I.T. person.”

Sebelius has said that she hopes her departure will allow for a reduction of tensions in Washington. “If I could take something along with me,” she said, it would be “all the animosity. If that could just leave with me, and we could get to a new chapter, that would be terrific.”

Sylvia Burwell
Sylvia Burwell

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Director of OMB, is President Obama’s choice to replace the embattled Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Coming to DC from West Virginia, the president applauded her small town sensibility that she will bring to the post.

In her remarks, Sebelius lost a page of her address, ad libbing her thanks to colleagues, the president, family and friends. One can’t help but wonder if that “glitch” is the end of past glitches, or the foretelling of future?

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