5 Things to Know About the Most Powerful Woman in Health Care*
*Pending her confirmation.
Kathleen Sebelius is resigning from her post as secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services, thus relinquishing her responsibility for the buggy Healthcare.gov. President Barack Obama has nominated Sylvia Mathews Burwell to take her place.
Introducing his new candidate, the Obama called Burwell “a proven manager” who “knows how to deliver results.”
Sure, she’ll be tasked with oversight of the $1.668 trillion health care industry, but what everyone really wants to know is… When will she fix the damn website? Here’s what you need to know about the woman who has the most-talked-about job in D.C. today.
1. She’s #TeamClinton
Burwell worked on Bill Clinton’s 1992 election campaign, chaired his economic transition team, and then served as staff director of the White House’s National Economic Council during the first year of Clinton’s presidency. She’s also held positions as chief of staff at the Treasury Department, deputy chief of staff at Clinton’s White House and deputy director at Clinton’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
2. She’s friends with Bill Gates
And by “friends with Bill Gates” we mean she held leadership positions at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a 10-year period, starting in 2001. From 2001 to 2002, Burwell served as executive vice president. She moved up to chief operating officer in 2002 and served there until 2006, when she took over as president of the Global Development Program. Wonkblog’s Dylan Matthews notes that she nearly became the foundation’s CEO in 2008 but was instead passed over in favor of Microsoft executive Jeff Raikes.
3. She’s pretty well-liked
Back in June 2013, Burwell was confirmed as head of OMB by a 96-0 margin, and her tenure was free of any major controversies — a rarity in polarized D.C. Granted, she’s going in to manage the Republican party’s chief gripe — Obamacare — so the honeymoon might not last long. “She has the benefit of keen intelligence and knows enough to do the job without the long history of speaking out on controversial topics that could create a problem,” Peter Orszag, a former OMB director, told NBC News. “She is basically right in the sweet spot.” Senator John McCain couldn’t agree more.
Sylvia Burwell is an excellent choice to be the next #HHS Secretary
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) April 11, 2014
4. She’s knows her stuff
Officials familiar with the way Sylvia Mathews Burwell operates seem to unanimously agree on one thing: She knows the source material, and she’s really good at getting things done. The president calls Burwell “a rock” and “a steady hand” during the negotiations that followed last October’s government shutdown.
“I could choose no manager as experienced, as competent as my current director of the Office of Management and Budget: Sylvia Mathews Burwell,” Obama said on Friday at a ceremony introducing his pick. “She is a specialist at getting things done,” former Treasury Director Larry Summers tells CNBC. “I’ve never met a policy official with more focus on and capacity for execution.”
“I could choose no manager as experienced, as competent as my current Director of OMB: Sylvia Mathews Burwell” —Obama on his @HHSgov nominee
— White House Live (@WHLive) April 11, 2014
5. She’s got her work cut out for her
Americans remain deeply divided over Obamacare. Congress even more so. “The challenge for Ms. Burwell, or any other successor, is to help Congress find the right way to repair the damage Obamacare has done to American families,” Sen. Lamar Alexander, the top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said. He highlighted one major sticking point Burwell will have to navigate on day one: how to frame the challenge that lies ahead.
“Now, we know there’s still more work to do at HHS,” President Obama said on Friday. “There’s more work to do to implement the Affordable Care Act. There’s another enrollment period coming up about six months from now. There’s a whole array of responsibilities to meet over at this large and very important agency.”
“And I could choose no manager as experienced, as competent as my current director of the Office of Management and Budget: Sylvia Mathews Burwell.”
Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/04/11/facts-about-sylvia-mathews-burwell/
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