In a rare moment of bipartisanship, the Senate voted to confirm the next HHS Secretary, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, by a vote of 78-17. 24 republicans, who join democrats in praising Ms. Burwell, voted to approve her for the high-profile position.
A number of media outlets, including The Washington Post, all reported that Burwell has a big job to do implementing the Affordable Care Act. While many of the rules and regulations, including those that will govern the market reforms, the navigator program, and the exchanges, have already been written, the job is far from over. Burwell will be working with states that declined the Medicaid expansion but would like to develop alternative programs to take advantage of the federal funds and will be overseeing the government’s revamp of the Healthcare.gov website in advance of the next Open Enrollment Period, which starts in November.
Other government agencies, including the IRS and the Department of Labor, are responsible for implementing other portions of the health reform law, including the individual and employer mandates and the government subsidies, but HHS has received much of the attention – and the criticism.
Burwell will replace outgoing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who announced her resignation at the conclusion of the ACA’s initial enrollment period. Here’s a short video to introduce you to Ms. Burwell: