On Thursday evening, it was reported that Kathleen Sebelius had resigned. The ill-fated Heath and Human Services Secretary, whose five-year term has been marked by the woes of the Obamacare rollout, has already had her resignation accepted by the White House. The President has already accepted Sebelius' resignation, and plans to nominate her replacement Friday: Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Although the official story is that Sebelius left and wasn't pushed, it's no secret that many blamed her for the botched Obamacare rollout last fall — in particular, the insurance exchange's poorly-designed website, which crashed so continuously that the Obamacare numbers were millions behind projection by the end of last year. At the time, 55 members of the House of Representatives — largely Republicans who had demanded a repeal of the Affordable Care Act in the first place — called for her resignation, and Sebelius staunchly refused.
The resignation might seem to come at an odd time, since Obamacare has never been in a stronger position. Enrollment stood at 7.1 million this week, a figure the White House initially hoped for but was late to arrive, and officials expect another 7.5 million to sign up for Obamacare by the end of 2014.
However, both the president and the administration have been left frustrated by the poor rollout of the ACA, which Sebelius preceded over — particularly since the ACA was intended to be the crowning glory of Barack Obama's presidency.
According to White House chief of staff Denis R. McDonough, Sebelius approached the president in March and offered to resign, suggesting that he'd be better served by somebody who wasn't the target of so much wrath. The improving climate around Obamacare had offered an opportunity for change for Sebelius, McDonough diplomatically told the New York Times. He continued:
What was clear is that she thought that it was time to transition the leadership to somebody else. 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.
Before she became Health Secretary, Sebelius had served as governor of Kansas.