President puts fresh face on Obamacare with new health secretary

President puts fresh face on Obamacare with new health secretary

HEALTHCARE HEADACHES: White House Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell speaks during an interview with Reuters journalists in Washington, on Jan. 30. Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

By Roberta Rampton and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – 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 healthcare law in the months before November congressional elections.

Burwell, whose nomination must be approved by the U.S. Senate, will replace Kathleen Sebelius, who became the public face of the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, 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 remarks 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,” Obama said.

“Yes, we lost the first quarter of the open enrollment period with the problems with And there were problems,” he said.

“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,” he said, noting that 7.5 million people have signed up for health insurance under the program, exceeding expectations.

Obama 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,” he said.

Sebelius chuckled throughout Obama’s speech, and then gave her critics some fodder by declaring there was a glitch in her speech.

“Unfortunately, a page is missing,” she said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Steve Holland; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

REVIEW: Veteran cast can’t save ‘The Martian’


It has all the earmarks of a blockbuster, but still can't shake the feeling of missed opportunity.

in Entertainment

WHAT’S ON: New on Netflix, Amazon & Hulu in October


Get your remotes ready for a binge-worthy weekend of new movies and TV shows.

in Music

Rolling Stones get their own Cuervo bottle


The tequila maker is paying tribute to the rockers and their 1972 North American tour.

in Entertainment

‘The Walk’ puts audiences on edge


"The Walk," out in theaters on Friday, tells the story of the quirky Philippe Petit and a misty August morning in 1974 when he strung cables between the Twin Towers and walked across the gaping void.

in Music

Top 10: Concert tours


The Rolling Stones, Taylor Swift, and Luke Bryan are all bringing down the house and breaking the bank.