The announcement that Kathleen Sebelius would be stepping down as Health and Human Services Secretary spread far and wide before the White House acknowledged it. Instead of announcing it themselves, the White House Twitter account retweeted a Vox post by Ezra Klein, claiming the move meant that Obamacare had “won.”
Klein immediately heralded the news on his new platform, Vox, with the title “Kathleen Sebelius is resigning because Obamacare has won.” His unorthodox take on why people resign argued that Sebelius was resigning because she “can,” because her job in that position was done. “In other words, the law has won its survival. The Obama administration can exhale,” Klein writes. Klein did not speculate that a massively flawed logistical operation like the HealthCare.gov situation could have prompted the change in leadership at the department. The White House, apparently, agrees, tweeting out a link to the article in lieu of a statement on the matter.
The Obama administration has been touting astronomical enrollment numbers of the Affordable Care Act after the enrollment website, HealthCare.gov, spent months in a state of near complete disarray and left millions unable to even attempt enrolling into a health insurance program. The numbers Democrats have used to claim the ACA’s alleged success include Medicaid enrollments, which would have occurred without the ACA, and individuals who were forced to buy insurance in the federal marketplace because Obamacare prompted insurers to cancel their original plans. The particularly embarrassing CuidadodeSalud.gov, which many Latinos complained boasted grammatically incorrect and awkward Spanish, also receives little attention from those claiming Obamacare’s succes.
During the initial days of the health care law rollout, Ezra Klein became one of the most outspoken critics of HealthCare.gov on the left. Klein described the original version of the website in October as “confusing” and “very bad.” He accused the Obama administration specifically of doing a “terrible job” implementing the law. Klein distinguished his criticism of the website and logistics behind implementing the law from criticism of the law itself, however. Klein wrote favorably of the technical details of programs under the Affordable Care Act, describing the new premiums under the law as a “great success.”
Secretary Sebelius is expected to step down immediately, to be replaced by Office of Management and Budget director Sylvia Burwell. The White House Twitter feed later supplemented Klein’s retweet with comments from President Obama, who thanked Sebelius and noted that “Kathleen’s work over the past five years will benefit our families and our country for decades to come.”