Congressional Republicans pounced on the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after five years at the helm of the agency, with one senator noting that changing the leadership at the agency won’t fix the “disaster” of Obamacare.
The White House was expected to formally announce Sebelius’ resignation today. She was notably not at President Obama’s side when he recently touted signup numbers in the Rose Garden.
“Kathleen Sebelius had a supremely difficult job implementing a law as unpopular and unwieldy as ObamaCare,” House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said in a statement. “Her tenure as the head of the Department of Health and Human Services may be at an end, but Americans will be dealing with the repercussions of the president’s health law for a very long time.”
“Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius’ resignation does not really hold the Obama Administration accountable for the failed law,” said Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who is challenging Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) in the fall on an anti-Obamacare platform. “Thousands of Louisiana families lost the healthcare plans they liked. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted trying to implement, and then fix, a broken website. It does not matter who is in charge of HHS, we still need to repeal Obamacare and replace it with solutions that put the patient in charge, not Washington.”
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) noted that “even though Secretary Sebelius will be gone, every promise the President made about Obamacare – if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor; health care costs will be lowered; and if you like your health plan you can keep it – will remain broken.”
“Changing the Secretary won’t change the problem – a disaster is still a disaster,” Moran added.
Obama is expected to nominate Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell to fill the job.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he was “so pleased” that his fellow West Virginian was picked. “Sylvia’s experience in both the public and private sector, matched with the bipartisan relationships she has built over the years, shows that she is a public servant ready to take on this country’s challenges,” Manchin said. “I am confident that her leadership will ensure that we enact commonsense fixes to the Affordable Care Act to help improve the lives of millions of Americans.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the senior Republican on the Senate health committee, said he’s also happy with the choice.
“This is the right decision,” Alexander said. “The challenge for Ms. Burwell, or any other successor, is to help Congress find the right way to repair the damage Obamacare has done to American families.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus warned that Sebelius’ replacement will “inherit a mess.”
“No matter who is in charge of HHS, ObamaCare will continue to be a disaster and will continue to hurt hardworking Americans,” Priebus said. “It’s time for President Obama to admit that Democrats’ signature law is a failure and heed Republican calls for patient-centered healthcare reform.”
“We are now left with so many questions and so few answers after witnessing endless delays, glitches, excessive costs and cancellations because of this misguided and dangerous law,” said Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.). “I look forward to a thorough investigation of what has transpired and how it related to her management of Obamacare’s implementation. The American people deserve accountability and answers.”