KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Ex-Microsoft Exec Takes Over Fixes

Kurt DelBene, who previously was president of the Microsoft Office Division, was named by President Barack Obama to replace Jeffrey D. Zients and oversee efforts to rescue the federal government's health care website.

The New York Times: Ex-Microsoft Executive To Take Over Health Site Repairs
President Obama has chosen a former Microsoft executive, Kurt DelBene, to replace Jeffrey D. Zients as head of the effort to finish repairs on the government’s health insurance website, administration officials said on Tuesday (Calmes, 12/17).

Los Angeles Times: Former Microsoft Executive To Lead Effort To Fix Obamacare Website
Kurt DelBene, who most recently served as president of the Microsoft Office Division, will take over from Jeffrey Zeints, a management expert whom the president asked to rescue the site after its disastrous rollout on Oct. 1 (Levey, 12 17).

The Washington Post: Kurt DelBene, Former Microsoft Executive, Will Take Over
Several lawmakers, concerned about the Web site’s rocky rollout, had pressed the administration to install an outside expert to oversee its operations once Zients left. Zients, who was appointed in late October and oversaw major improvements in the system, had requested a month’s time to prepare for his next West Wing assignment. DelBene spent two decades managing large technical teams at Microsoft and recently served as president of its Microsoft Office division; he announced in July that he would retire by the end of the year. Sebelius said that he will work with Health and Human Services officials and the site’s general contractor, QSSI (Eilperin, 12/17). 

The Associated Press/Washington Post: New Tech Honcho For Obama Health Care Website
DelBene’s appointment was announced Tuesday by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. He is married to Rep. Suzan DelBene, a Washington state Democrat, who also has a technology background. The website is the insurance portal for Obama’s health care law (12/17). 

Politico: White House To Tap Microsoft Exec To Fix
DelBene will be in that role for at least the first six months of 2014, Sebelius said. He was most recently the president of the Microsoft Office Division and has been with the company since 1992. Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman and founder, praised DelBene for his expertise in "managing complex large-scale technology projects" (Kim, 12/17).

USA Today: White House Taps New Chief For Health Care Website
Sebelius said DelBene would provide oversight and advice on everything from technology to marketing, as well as execute the existing plan. "The President and I believe strongly in having one person, with strong experience and expertise in management and execution, who is thinking 24/7 about," she wrote. He will continue to work with QSSI, the general contractor for (Kennedy and Jackson, 12/17). 

CQ HealthBeat: Microsoft Veteran Starts Wednesday As Six-Month Successor To Zients
Kurt DelBene, a former Microsoft executive married to Democratic Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington state, will succeed Jeff Zients starting Wednesday as the Obama administration’s go-to figure in charge of making the federal exchange website run right. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said DelBene, 53, will be on the job for at least the first half of 2014, and will serve as her senior adviser (Reichard and Attias, 12/17).

CBS News: Former Microsoft Exec To Take Over HealthCare.Gov Oversight
Former Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene is taking over the management of, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Tuesday. This Wednesday, DelBene will replace former corporate executive Jeff Zients, whom the administration enlisted in October to manage the overhaul of the dysfunctional Obamacare website. In a blog post, Sebelius wrote that Zients -- who is slated in January to assume his new role as the director of the National Economic Council -- did an "outstanding job" improving the site. "Today, the site is night and day from what it was when it launched on October 1," she wrote (Condon, 12/17).

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