Sebelius: Staying Until 2017 ‘Wasn’t An Option’

April 13, 2014 12:11 p.m.

After Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced her resignation this week, she explained her decision to leave the administration on Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Well, actually, I made a decision at the election that I couldn’t leave along with a lot of my colleagues who left at the end of the first term. That did not seem to be even a topic to consider since there was still one more chapter in this Affordable Care Act that needed to roll out,” she said. “There is never a good time.”

But she said that at the beginning of January, she began to discuss her departure with President Obama.

“And I went back to him in early March and said, ‘You know, I’m really optimistic we’re gonna meet the targets and the enrollment is good. While the site is working well, I think once we finish this first chapter you really should begin to look for the next secretary who can be here through the end of your term.’ And that really wasn’t a commitment I was willing to make,” she said.

“I made it pretty clear that that really wasn’t an option, to stay on. I mean, it was fair to either commit till January of 2017 or leave with enough time that he would get a strong competent leader.”

Sebelius, who was in charge of implementing Obamacare, said that the law has ultimately been successful, despite the glitchy rollout. But she did speak about the low point for her.

“I would say that the eight weeks where the site was not functioning well for the vast majority of people was a pretty dismal time,” she said. “But having failed once — at the front of October– the first of December became a critical juncture of other– It was going to meet the expectations the second time around. I knew we didn’t have a third time around. So, it was– that was a pretty– a pretty scary date.”

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