After the federally facilitated insurance exchange system — the cornerstone provision of the Affordable Care Act — launched in October to numerous software errors and design flaws that significantly hampered the enrollment process, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the person responsible for the functioning of Healthcare.gov, drew much of the blame.
Republicans called for her resignation for weeks, but she stood her ground and the president defended her. However, six months after the exchange enrollment period concluded and signups surpassed the Obama administration’s highest target, Obama’s healthcare boss announced her resignation. In her place, the president nominated Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the current director of the Office of Management and Budget, one of the most powerful positions in most administrations. She was also the deputy director of the budget office during the Clinton administration.
Burwell faced little opposition from lawmakers in a series of hearings held before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on May 8 and before the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday. There was no tough debate between Republicans and Democrats over whether Burwell would be able to effectively manage what has proven to be a troubled healthcare reform. Rather, the hearings suggest that Burwell’s confirmation will face little opposition from lawmakers who would like to see significant changes made to federal health policy and regulations.