Sebelius' tenure as HHS secretary was rocky, but she delivered

April 14, 2014 

The talents that brought Kathleen Sebelius to the attention of Time magazine, which named her one of the nation’s five best governors when she was chief executive of Kansas, didn’t vanish in a tornado-like rollout of health care reform.

Sebelius was respected by fellow governors, was well-regarded in her home state and accomplished some significant things as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She presided over changes in American health care that allowed parents to keep their children on their health insurance until those children turned 26, and on her watch insurance companies were no longer allowed to decline people with pre-existing conditions.

But her resignation from the Cabinet was not unexpected. For it was Sebelius’ misfortune to be in charge of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and the HealthCare.gov website. Technical glitches created a chaotic situation, frustrating many who tried to sign up early on. And it gave President Obama’s critics what they’d been looking for: a hook on which to hang their opposition to what they liked to call “Obamacare.”

But over 7 million Americans have signed up, the president’s initial goal, and there is a strong likelihood that as the insurance those people bought through the website kicks in, support for the ACA will grow.

Sebelius can take some credit for the successes of reform. But, yes, she was the point person on the rollout, and it didn’t go well. In resigning, she has done the right thing for the president and for the future of health care that she helped launch.

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