News

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 HealthCare.gov. 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

13 hours ago in Entertainment

OPENING WEEKEND: ‘Mother’s Day,’ Key & Peele comedy ‘Keanu’ hit theaters

22-overlay-9

Here's a look at some of the films set to open this weekend.

13 hours ago in Entertainment

WHAT’S ON: New on Netflix, Amazon & Hulu this May

netflixAP

It's going to be a great weekend for some binge-watching.

15 hours ago in Entertainment

Alicia Vikander to play Lara Croft in ‘Tomb Raider’ reboot

vikanderREUTERS

The Swedish Oscar winner follows in the footsteps of Angelina Jolie to play the famed adventurer.

17 hours ago in Entertainment

‘Angry Birds,’ apps to go hand-in-hand at the movies

21-overlay-15

Creators of the upcoming "The Angry Birds Movie" movie will ask audiences to whip out their phones during the end credits and point them at the screen.

18 hours ago in Music

Martina McBride cuts her hair for ‘Reckless’

24-overlay-7

She says it was no big deal and it was such a great metaphor for the idea of being reckless.