Kathleen Sebelius Resigns as Secretary of Health


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Kathleen Sebelius will resign from her post as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, President Obama will announce today, the White House said.

Sebelius, 65, will step down just after enrollment in President's Obama healthcare program topped first-year goals.  A former Democratic governor of Kansas, Sebelius spent five years as secretary, and presided over one of the biggest changes in healthcare in the U.S. since Medicare and Medicaid started nearly 50 years ago.

President Obama is expected to name Sylvia Mathews Burwell, 48, director of the Office of Management and Budget, as the next health department secretary, the White House said.

"From her work on Head Start, to expanding mental health coverage, to advancing cutting-edge health care research and, of course, her unwavering leadership in implementing the Affordable Care Act, Secretary Sebelius often calls her work here the most meaningful of her life," Dori Salcido, a department spokeswoman, said in an e-mail confirming Sebelius's resignation.

Sebelius helped implement 2010 healthcare law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. It is expected that under the new law, health insurance will eventually be offered to 25 million more people in the U.S., paid for with changes to Medicare, taxes on health-care providers, a requirement that all Americans have insurance, and a provision that allows young people to stay on their parents' insurance plans until the age of 26.

The deadline for first-year enrollment in the program was March 31, and after a troubled start, total enrollment reached 7.1 million people, and exceeded initial projections. Enrollment has since risen to 7.5 million, as individuals were given an extended deadline to complete applications.

Sebelius told Obama in early March that she would resign, according to an e-mail from the White House. She said the end of the health law's first enrollment period on March 31 would be "the right time to transition the department to new leadership," the e-mail said.

Sebelius and Burwell are expected to join Obama for the public announcement today at the White House.

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