Why hasn’t Obama fired the architect of the Obamacare rollout?

It’s the question that everyone asks and yet no one seems to know the answer: Why hasn’t President Obama fired the one person most responsible for the disastrous Obamacare rollout, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius?

On March 12 Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) asked her specifically in congressional testimony, “Are you going to delay the open enrollment beyond March 31?” She told him, “No, sir.  There is no delay beyond March 31.” But a mere two weeks later, the Obama administration delayed it for many Americans—though no one knows how many and the administration won’t be verifying people’s responses anyway.

That same day I published an opinion piece where I suggested that there was a 75 percent chance the mandate would be delayed. (I actually thought the chances were higher, but wanted to be on the safe side.)  It wasn’t a tough call since there have been nearly 40 Obamacare delays so far.

So, how does the person in charge of Obamacare not know two weeks out that the March 31 coverage deadline is going to be delayed? Even if the final decision hadn’t been made, it is inconceivable that all of these supposed geniuses running this administration hadn’t broached the question two weeks out, in which case she would have hedged her answer.

Either Sebelius lied under oath to Congress, or the real Obamacare decision makers are keeping her out of the loop, which means she is essentially a figurehead.

Either way, why hasn’t she been fired?

When Obamacare passed in March 2010, the law effectively made Sebelius the most powerful woman in the country, because it bestowed on her so much control over the health care system, hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, and oversight of health insurers and medical care. In four years she has fallen from a power broker to a broken record who never knows what’s happening or why—but is CONFIDENT the problems will be fixed soon.

Of course, one could argue that she was only in charge of Obamacare’s implementation; she didn’t draft the legislation and so shouldn’t be held accountable for all the law’s problems. But that argument misses one crucial point: As the former insurance commissioner of Kansas she knew more about health insurance than virtually all of the Democrats crafting the bill—though admittedly that knowledge bar wasn’t very high.

While Obamacare’s drafters refused to listen to those of us with health policy experience when we tried to warn them about such things as the “young invincibles,” “adverse selection,” “death spirals” and the problems with mandating coverage, they should have listened to her; she was the in-house expert. But she apparently never warned the Obama administration that its health insurance monstrosity was unworkable, unaffordable and unfair.

How is that not a firing offence?

All of us involved in health policy knew that the vast majority of people would not be able to keep their current health insurance policy—we talked about it regularly. How is it that a former state insurance commissioner didn’t know that? Did she let her boss hang out to dry or was she just incompetent?

There was some thought a few months ago that the reason Obama hadn’t fire her was that he couldn’t get another HHS secretary approved because of the need for 60 votes in the Senate. But Senate Majority Leader destroyed that tradition, so all Obama needs is 51.

There is another possibility: She knows were all the bodies are buried (no pun intended).

Both the Obamacare rollout and the law itself have become so mangled and unpopular that even the media are beginning to think Republicans have a good chance of taking control of the Senate in November. Many Democrats will be out of a job because of Obamacare, but the architect of the Obamacare rollout will still have hers.


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