Departing Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius answered on Sunday the question buzzing around Washington — was she fired or did she leave? — saying that President Barack Obama “made it pretty clear” that staying at the White House “really wasn’t an option.”
Sebelius spoke with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell about her resignation this week. “Were you pushed or did you jump?” Mitchell asked the secretary.
“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,” she replied. “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, and that had been one of my responsibilities.”
She added “there is never a good time” to leave, noting another open enrollment period beginning this fall and other scheduled implementations of the law.
Sebelius said she talked to President Obama at the beginning of the year and again in March, claiming she said he should “begin to look for the next secretary who can be here through the end of [his] term. And that really wasn’t a commitment I was willing to make.”
“Did he try to talk you out of it?” Mitchell asked.
“Well, it made it pretty clear that that really wasn’t an option, to stay on,” Sebelius replied. “I mean, I thought it was fair to either commit until January of 2017 or leave with enough time that he would get a strong, competent leader.”
Many commentators believe that the Obama administration is trying to scapegoat Sebelius for the myriad problems plaguing the Affordable Care Act.
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