Sebelius legacy strained by disastrous rollout, messaging struggles

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' resignation didn't take many by surprise, with some even calling the entirety of her five-year term "rocky."

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ resignation didn’t take many by surprise, with some even calling the entirety of her five-year term "rocky."

To put a positive twist on the news, the official White House Twitter account retweeted a story by Vox’s Ezra Klein headlined "Kathleen Sebelius is resigning because Obamacare has won." That story mentions the president’s refusal to accept her resignation immediately after the disastrous launch of Healthcare.gov because "the White House wouldn’t panic in ways that made it harder to save the law."

Yet now that Obamacare has not only been salvaged but bounced back in a big way – 7.5 million people have reportedly signed up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act – Klein says the administration can "exhale" and "personnel changes can be made."

One particular staffing shift after Sebelius’ exit is the promotion of White House Office of Management and Budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace her.

Sebelius’ legacy could have been, at one point, what she did before the Affordable Care Act went into effect. Yet it’s more likely that people will remember the negative, at least in the immediate future.

She had notable messaging struggles during her tenure.

In 2009, the former Kansas governor called for an overhaul of the healthcare system, lest consumers in the US pay "twice as much" as the rest of the world and "our health outcomes look like we’re a developing nation."

Last October, Healthcare.gov launched to dismal reviews, with huge numbers of individuals not able to sign up. Republican lawmakers called for Sebelius’ resignation.

Perhaps most notable was her October appearance on The Daily Show, where host Jon Stewart – certainly no friend to the right – challenged the Democrat to sign up for Obamacare before he could download "every movie ever made."

The interview didn’t get better from there, when Sebelius wasn’t able to say how many people had signed up for health insurance by then, except to say she didn’t know.

Even today, when her resignation was officially announced, Sebelius caught flack for realizing mid-speech that a page was missing from her farewell address.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.