Here are the facts: The White House will formally announce the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sometime Friday.
The announcement comes 11 days after the end of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, the implementation of which has had a few bumps along the way
. Even so, President Obama’s administration exceeded its enrollment goal of 7 million during the six-month period.
As could be expected, the interpretations of just what Sebelius’ resignation means vary wildly. For example, here’s a portion of the statement from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky):
Regardless of the administration’s public explanation for the Secretary’s exit, Obamacare has been a rolling disaster and her resignation is cold comfort to the millions of Americans who were deceived about what it would mean for them and their families.
To contrast, here’s part of what Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said:
Not once did she let attacks from both the left and the right deter her from the goal of bringing health care to millions of uninsured Americans, and working to improve the health of people across the nation. She is to be commended for this. As she leaves office, Secretary Sebelius has every reason to be proud of her service.
That’s the spread. She’s either a great success who will be remembered well by history, or an immense failure who helped “deceive” the American public.
Of course, that’s politics, but the timing of the secretary’s resignation is such that it’s going to be all but impossible to divorce it from the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and its various technical glitches. Members of Congress are already drawing conclusions about more resignations to come:
Friday’s formal announcement of Sebelius’s resignation, and presumably the naming of White House Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell to succeed her, will be a tightrope walk. Obama must candidly explain why Sebelius is leaving, but not say that the ACA’s problems pushed her out the door.
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What should he say, PR Daily readers?
In a Friday press conference, President Obama presented Sebelius as a victor as she leaves office, despite the "bruises" that came during the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
"Yes, we lost the first quarter of the open enrollment period with the problems with Healthcare.gov," he said. "And they 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."