Kathleen Sebelius to resign,Obama nominates next health secretary

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama announced Friday he will nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be the next Department of Health and Human Services secretary. Burwell is the current director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Obama praised outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. He said she would "go down in history" for serving as secretary when the United States "finally declared that quality, affordable health care" would be a right for every U.S. citizen. Obama said, "I will miss her advice. I will miss her friendship. I will miss her wit."

[Previous story, 10:58 a.m.]

The woman whom President Barack Obama will tap to replace outgoing Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius is no stranger to making tough calls.

After all, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the current director of the Office of Management and Budget, was responsible for sending out the shutdown order to federal agencies last fall.

She also has a history in Washington circles that extends beyond her role as the current budget director. Burwell is a Clinton administration veteran going back all the way to the 1992 campaign when she worked in the "War Room."

She inherits an agency that has faced criticism over its implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the President's signature heath care reform law. Sebelius weathered heavy criticism over the flaw-filled launch of the Obamacare website, then saw the program through as it topped a major milestone.

Sebelius' time as head of the federal health agency coincided with the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the bill often referred to as Obamacare. She came under fire last fall for the rocky rollout of HealthCare.gov, the website central to the new law's implementation.

The website's performance did improve significantly, prompting the calls for her job to die down as well. This month, in a letter to department employees, Sebelius reflected on Obamacare enrollment exceeding its target of 7 million as evidence of "the progress we've made, together," while stating that "our work is far from over."

"I know that this law has been at the center of much debate and discourse in Washington, but what this enrollment demonstrates is that the Affordable Care Act is working and much needed," she said in the note.


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