KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Sebelius Notes Missteps But Praises The Health Law

In an appearance on "Meet The Press," the outgoing Health and Human Services secretary offered her views on the botched rollout of and the decision to leave the Obama administration. Meanwhile, news outlets also examine how her resignation unfolded.

The Wall Street Journal: Sebelius Exits Without Regret, Despite 'Awful' Period
Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius described the period last fall when was crippled by technical problems as "awful," but said she had no regrets as she prepares to leave her job. In an interview with NBC News that aired Sunday, Mrs. Sebelius said she would ask different questions about the readiness of the website if she could have a do-over (McCain Nelson, 4/13).

Los Angeles Times: Sebelius Praises Obamacare, Concedes Rollout Was Botched
Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Sunday that the health insurance exchanges that are now up and running across the country have given uninsured Americans a true choice of insurance plans with price comparisons. "People have competitive choices and real information for the first time ever in this insurance market," Sebelius said in an interview on NBC's "Meet The Press" (Savage, 4/13).

Politico: Sebelius Says Departure Was Her Choice
Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says her departure after Obamacare’s first, rocky open enrollment period was her own choice and that it was "a logical time to leave." "The president and I began to talk, you know, after the first of the year," Sebelius told NBC's Andrea Mitchell in an interview that aired Sunday on "Meet the Press." "And I went back to him in early March and said, 'You know, I'm really optimistic we're going to meet the targets and the enrollment is good, the site is working well. I think once we finish this first chapter you really should begin to look for the next secretary who can be here through the end of your term.' And that really wasn't a commitment I was willing to make. And he knew that" (Titus, 4/13).

The Associated Press: Sebelius: Health Care Launch 'Terribly Flawed'
The Obama administration's timeline for having ready the new health care law's online sign-up system "was just flat out wrong," outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an interview that aired Sunday. The departing health chief also said the two months when was plagued with technical problems were "a pretty dismal time" and the low point of her five-year tenure. But she defended the law's impact and said millions of Americans now have access to health care because of it (Elliott, 4/13).

Fox News: Sebelius Says Timeline For ObamaCare Rollout 'Flat Out Wrong'
She also said the president setting a Dec. 1 deadline to have the website repaired was a nerve-racking experience. "Having failed once at the front of October, the first of December became a critical juncture," Sebelius said. "That was a pretty scary date" (4/14).

Reuters:  Sebelius Says She Told Obama Staying 'Wasn't An Option'
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who resigned last week, says she made the decision to leave and told President Barack Obama last month that staying on "wasn't an option". In her first interview since the White House announced her resignation as the president's top healthcare adviser, Sebelius told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that she and Obama first spoke about her future after Obamacare enrollment began to show signs of recovering from its disastrous October 1 launch (Reed, 4/13).

The Hill: Sebelius: Pressure After Rollout Was 'Awful'
In candid remarks about the healthcare rollout, Sebelius said she regretted not asking different questions when was under construction. "If I had a magic wand and could go back to mid-September and ask different questions based on what I know now," I would, she said. "I thought I was getting the best information from the best experts but clearly that didn't go well" (Viebeck, 4/13). 

The New York Times: Sebelius's Slow-Motion Resignation From the Cabinet
The White House frustration with Ms. Sebelius crystallized by Thanksgiving, as it became clear in Washington that she would eventually have to go. Republicans were brutalizing her at congressional hearings. The health care website's problems were consuming the White House. ... But three things put off Ms. Sebelius’s departure: Mr. Obama’s fear that letting people go in the middle of a crisis would delay fixing the website; his belief that ceremonial firings are public concessions to his enemies; and the admiration and personal loyalty that Mr. Obama still felt for Ms. Sebelius and her advocacy for his chief domestic legacy (Shear, Calmes and Pear, 4/11).

Politico: The Kathleen Sebelius Sendoff: Everybody Wins
The idea that Sebelius can still claim full credit for the health care law’s achievements isn't going to fly with a lot of the public. Obamacare opponents — and some angry Democrats — insist that Sebelius had to go. She was, after all, the Health and Human Services secretary who let the broken website go live — and define Obama’s signature program with an image of incompetence. But now, because of the timing, some liberals could actually push back against the "Sebelius leaves because of failed website" storyline. What failure, many of them asked on Friday? She helped bring health care to more than 7 million people (Nather, 4/11).

CBS News: Kathleen Sebelius' Legacy On Obamacare: Failure Or Success?
Whatever the motivation behind it, her announcement ignited a fresh debate about her record in overseeing the implementation of a law that's considered the president's most significant domestic policy achievement (Miller, 4/13).

Kaiser Health News: Obama Hails Sebelius' 'Extraordinary Service' (Video)
Kaiser Health News posted video clips of Friday’s remarks by President Barack Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (4/11).

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