WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said on Friday he will promote budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be his next health secretary, who will preside over the next difficult phase of his signature healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act in the months before November’s congressional elections.
Burwell, whose nomination must first be approved by the U.S. Senate, will replace Kathleen Sebelius, who became the face of the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, which Republicans plan to exploit as they seek to take control of the Senate.
But Obama made it clear he did not blame Sebelius for the problems. In remarked interrupted multiple times by sustained cheering from White House and administration officials, he praised Sebelius, saying she will go down in history for her work implementing Obamacare.
“She’s got bumps, I’ve got bumps, bruises.
Yes, we lost the first quarter of the open enrollment period with the problems with Healthcare.gov. And there were problems.”
But under Kathleen’s leadership, her team at HHS turned the corner, got it fixed, got the job done, and the final score speaks for itself.”
Obama also noted that 7.5 million people have signed up for health insurance under the program, exceeding expectations.
Obama also praised Burwell for her management skills and her help guiding the administration through a 16-day government shutdown last fall.
“Sylvia was a rock, a steady hand on the wheel who helped navigate the country through a very challenging time.”
Sebelius chuckled throughout Obama’s speech, and then gave the kings of late night material for their opening monologues.
“Unfortunately, a page is missing.”