HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Resigns

Mark Crane

April 10, 2014

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning, ending her 5-year term that was marred by the problem-plagued rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Obama's key domestic policy achievement, a White House official said Thursday.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius resigns after 5 years in office. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Sebelius quit her cabinet post just 1 week after the end of the first enrollment period for the ACA. She announced today that 7.5 million people had enrolled for health coverage under the new law.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, will be nominated to replace Sebelius, officials said.

Sylvia Matthews Burwell, President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Sebelius. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Sebelius had faced blistering criticism since October, when people encountered severe problems trying to enroll for health insurance on the government's HealthCare.gov Web site. Members of Congress also were critical of her when she promised that there would be no extensions of the March 31 deadline to enroll, only to reverse that position and extend the enrollment period 2 weeks later.

Sebelius, 65, was not under any pressure to resign, Denis R. McDonough, White House chief of staff, told The New York Times. She had approached the president and said that after the enrollment deadline he would be better served by someone who wasn't the target of political controversy, McDonough said.

"What was clear is that she thought that it was time to transition the leadership to somebody else," he said. "She's made clear in other comments publicly that she recognizes that she takes a lot of the incoming. She does hope — all of us hope — that we can get beyond the partisan sniping.”

Burwell, 48, is a Harvard- and Oxford-educated West Virginia native with a background in economic policy. "The president wants to make sure we have a proven manager and relentless implementer in the job," McDonough said.

Burwell previously served as president of the Walmart Foundation and spent a decade with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She also served as deputy chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton.

Sebelius had served as governor of Kansas before joining the cabinet.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.