Healthcare reform controversy surrounds Sebelius

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U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has found herself at the center of the controversy surrounding the beleaguered rollout of the insurance exchanges. With some GOP members calling for her resignation, is her job safe?

Sebelius won't be leaving HHS anytime soon, NBC News reported. With open enrollment in full swing, the administration needs someone in charge to explain the situation and update consumers on efforts to address problems with the exchange website.

"The idea of her resigning is silly," Jay Angoff, the former head of implementation for Affordable Care Act insurance reforms at HHS and now an attorney at Mehri and Skalet, told NBC. "If she did, it would just make a bad situation worse. She has a wealth of institutional knowledge that no one else can match, and it wouldn't make any sense."

Some maintain Sebelius is getting blamed for problems out of her control and those most directly responsible for technical glitches should get the boot, NBC News noted.

While she might not be directly responsible for the mishaps, Sebelius gave no warning of potential problems during the lead up to open enrollment, according to Bloomberg. In fact, she spent much of that time promoting the new marketplaces.

During the summer Sebelius touted the relaunched website and a 24/7 call center, as well as had "active discussions" with several sports leagues about promoting the exchanges. Back in April, Sebelius was so confident her agency would meet the Oct. 1 deadline for open enrollment that she said HHS wasn't considering contingency plans.

The agency did meet the Oct. 1 deadline, but it wasn't without problems. And unless HHS solves those problems, the pressure on Sebelius to leave government will continue to grow. "This is her legacy. This is it," Ed Haislmaier, a healthcare expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told the Kansas City Star. "For better or for worse, she's tied to the mast on this ship."

For more:
- here's the NBC article
- read the Bloomberg article
- read the Kansas City Star article

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