Today, President Obama announced that Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the current director of the Office of Management and Budget would follow Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Secretary Sebelius’s work over the last five years have been critical to the health and welfare of the American people, and will benefit our families and this country for decades to come, President Obama said.
She has fought to improve children’s health, from birth to kindergarten; expanded mental health care; reduced racial and ethnic disparities; brought us closer to the first AIDS-free generation. She’s been a tireless advocate for women’s health.
And, of course, what Kathleen will go down in history for is serving as the Secretary of Health and Human Services when the United States of America finally declared that quality, affordable health care is not a privilege, but it is a right for every single citizen of these United States of America.
“Kathleen has been here through the long fight to pass the Affordable Care Act,” President Obama said. “She helped guide its implementation, even when it got rough.”
There are 7.5 million people across the country that have the security of health insurance, most of them for the very first time. And that's because of the woman standing next to me here today. And we are proud of her for that. That's an historic accomplishment.
There’s more work to do at HHS, President Obama said, which is why he’s nominating Burwell to take the role next.
“She’s a proven manager who’s demonstrated her ability to field great teams, forge strong relationships, and deliver excellent results at the highest levels,” he said. “And she’s done it both in the public and private sectors.”
And she’ll need to be a proven manager because these are tough tasks, big challenges. From covering more families with economic security that health insurance provides, to ensuring the safety of our food and drug supply, to protecting the country from outbreak or bioterror attacks, to keeping America at the forefront of job-creating medical research, all of us rely on the dedicated servants and scientists, the researchers at HHS and the FDA and CDC and NIH. All of them are an extraordinary team, and sometimes the American people take for granted the incredible network of outstanding public servants that we have who are helping to keep us healthy and helping improve our lives every single day.