So it’s out with Sebelius as Health and Human Services Secretary and in with Sylvia Mathews Burwell in a rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic according to various news reports including the article on Bloomberg.com. In announcing the shakeup Obama said this according to Bloomberg:
In getting the Obamacare exchange website running, “there were problems,” the president said in the White House Rose Garden. “But under Kathleen’s leadership, her team at HHS turned the corner, got the job done, and the final score speaks for itself.”
I don’t know much about Kathleen Sebelius, but I doubt there was much she could have done differently to make the rollout of ObamaCare any less impactful than it has been. I went over some of the technical challenges she faced in this post. She likely would have needed five years total for the rulemaking and then the design, architecture and implementation of the IT infrastructure to support it appropriately, and the law gave her two and a half.
It’s sort of sad that Sebelius is taking the heat for the mess of the rushed, some 2500+ page legislation that amounted to a skeleton of a wide ranging health system overhaul. One of my favorite modern political speeches is the one John Boehner delivered on the House floor the night the House passed ObamaCare. “Can you honestly tell your constituents that you’ve read and understand what’s in this bill? Hell, no. You can’t!” And of course one of the most idiotic things ever said by a Speaker of the House was when Nancy Pelosi said, “We have to pass the bill so we can find out what’s in it.” I guess it really didn’t end up as one of those moments where they pass out the goodies as she had planned.
I am a bit surprised that Obama found a replacement. If I were concerned about my career and reputation I wouldn’t go anywhere near that steaming pile. It’s an unworkable law and the Obama Administration and congressional Democrats should start thinking about compromise in order to do something that would actually help the situation. None of us deserve the mess to be foisted upon us; and if they don’t do something to try to fix it, they deserve what comes afterward.