Sebelius Is Out - Health Care Edge
SEBELIUS RESIGNS: President Obama will announce this morning that he has accepted Kathleen Sebelius' resignation as HHS secretary and plans to nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the White House budget director, to succeed her. Thanks to the post-nuclear Senate, Burwell might be confirmed -- she was, after all, confirmed 96-0 for the budget post, although HHS is clearly a much more controversial job. A senior administration official says to expect the transition from Sebelius to Burwell to happen sometime in May.
Top Health Care News
SEBELIUS: "The secretary told the president [last month] that the March 31 deadline for sign-ups under the health care law — and rising enrollment numbers — provided an opportunity for change, and that he would be best served by someone who was not the target of so much political ire, [White House chief of staff Denis McDonough] said." (Michael D. Shear, New York Times)
OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT SWELLS TO 7.5 MILLION: An additional 400,000 people have enrolled in private insurance coverage through the Obamacare exchanges as of this week, Sebelius said in a Senate Finance hearing Thursday. (Sophie Novack, National Journal)
Here's a breakdown of the people that have insurance as a result of the health care law. (German Lopez, Vox Media)
More on Sebelius' Resignation
THE ENROLLMENT WEBSITE FIASCO... "There's always going to be an asterisk by her name," said Jim Manley, a former aide to Harry Reid. (David Nather, Politico)
...MEDICAID EXPANSION… "Sebelius' policy flexibility provided conservatives with enough political cover to implement key parts of the law." (Igor Volsky, Think Progress)
...AND THE MILLIONS OF NEWLY INSURED AMERICANS: "Sebelius can't take all or even most of the credit for [the Obamacare] successes, any more than she should take all or most of the blame for the law's troubles. But her role in those achievements (and others, like improvements to Head Start and stronger regulations on child care safety) is also part of her record." (Jonathan Cohn, New Republic)
WHO IS OBAMA'S REPLACEMENT PICK? "Denis R. McDonough, the White House chief of staff, said in an interview on Thursday that the president chose Ms. Burwell because he wanted 'a proven manager and relentless implementer.'" (Michael D. Shear, New York Times)
Burwell is relatively new to health care, though she played a role in setting health policy as OMB director. (Dan Diamond, The Advisory Board Company)
HOW EASY WILL HER CONFIRMATION BE? "A lot less tough than it would have been five months ago or than it will be eight months from today." (Sarah Kliff, Vox Media)
WHAT CHALLENGES WILL SHE FACE AS SECRETARY? Five hurdles Burwell will confront on day one. (Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico)
What the Resignation Means
OBAMACARE HAS WON: "The White House says Sebelius notified the President in March that 'she felt confident in the trajectory for enrollment and implementation,' and that once open enrollment ended, 'it would be the right time to transition the Department to new leadership.' In other words, the law has won its survival." (Ezra Klein, Vox Media)
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR REPUBLICANS: "This surprise resignation presents Republicans with an unexpected opportunity to refocus the conversation on Obamacare's negatives, offers a chance to force vulnerable Senate Democrats to take a hard vote on Obamacare six months before the midterms, and serves to disrupt what had been a positive few days of media spin for the health care law into another conversation about its many failings." (Ben Domenech, The Federalist)
Rachel Maddow said the administration was "stepping on its own tail," overshadowing the first good news cycle about the health care law.
CONTINUED BATTLE OVER THE ACA: A backhanded compliment from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor suggests Sebelius' resignation will do nothing to diminish the Republican resolve to block the law's implementation. (Sophie Novack)
RARE PRO-OBAMACARE AD IN ALASKA SENATE RACE: Vulnerable Senate Democrats are doing a lot to distance themselves from the health law, but a super PAC supporting Sen. Mark Begich is embracing the health care law in a new ad. The spot doesn't mention the ACA or Obamacare by name, but features an Anchorage resident describing being denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition and praising Begich "because he fought the insurance companies." (Andrea Drusch, National Journal)
SENATE HELP COMMITTEE ESTABLISHES PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE WORKING GROUP: Calling painkiller abuse a "bona fide public health crisis," Sens. Tom Harkin and Lamar Alexander announced Thursday the creation of a bipartisan Working Group to examine the challenges of reducing prescription drug abuse and what public officials can do to overcome it.
ACA EXPANDS ACCESS TO SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT, BUT BARRIERS REMAIN: "The law requires that substance abuse treatment be offered to people newly insured through the insurance exchanges or Medicaid, the government health plan for the poor and disabled. But serious impediments remain to widespread access, including a shortage of substance abuse providers and available beds nationwide, say treatment experts and government officials." (Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News)
SHOULD WE HAVE EXPECTED THIS WEEK'S BIG SURPRISE ON EMPLOYER HEALTH INSURANCE? The new RAND study likely validates employers' predictions that Obamacare's individual mandate would increase the number of employees opting into their provided health plans. (Jason Millman, Washington Post)
WOMEN OUTNUMBER THEM 10:1. SO WHY DO MALE NURSES GET PAID MORE? In 2011, the average salary for a male nurse was $10,000 more than a female nurse. (Dan Diamond, The Advisory Board Company)
GUN VIOLENCE AS A PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE: The American College of Physicians issued a position paper with its proposals to reduce gun violence in the wake of Vivek Murthy's controversial nomination to be Surgeon General. (Lenny Bernstein, Washington Post)
SEBELIUS RESIGNATION ANNOUNCEMENT: Obama will announce Sebelius' resignation and Burwell's nomination at 11 a.m.