Senate confirms Mathews Burwell as HHS secretary

The Senate confirmed Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the 22nd secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Washington Post reported Thursday afternoon.

An overwhelming 78-17 approval vote puts Burwell, who previously served as the White House's budget director, in the spotlight to deal with the Affordable Care Act and the U.S. healthcare system, according to the report.

She replaces outgoing secretary Kathleen Sebelius--the public face of the botched HealthCare.gov rollout--who stepped down from her post in April after five years of service.

Democrats hope Burwell will bring a fresh face to the ACA five months before the November midterm congressional elections, after the botched rollout damaged public opinion regarding the law and what it means for the future of healthcare, according to the article.

Campaigning against the law helped Republicans in the off year, and the party hopes for premium increases before the midterm elections, which combined with the country's dislike for the refort, could lift them up in the polls and help win the Senate majority in 2015, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Burwell, who is respected among both Democrats and Republicans, currently serves as Obama's budget director. Her experience in the private sector, outreach skills, budget expertise and non-partisan credibility suggest the confirmation is imminent.

Check back with FierceHealthcare for more details.

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