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News analysis: U.S. Health Secretary's resignation could be fodder for GOP in Congressional elections

English.news.cn   2014-04-15 06:38:13

By Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, April 14 (Xinhua) -- Thursday's announcement of the resignation of U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius could give the Republican Party (GOP) new ammunition in the lead-up to the November mid-term Congressional elections.

Sebelius, who oversaw U.S. President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, or Obamacare, from its inception to its disastrous rollout, said Sunday that the timeline for the law's implementation was "flat out wrong."

Christopher Galdieri, assistant professor at Saint Anselm College, told Xinhua that these comments absolutely gave the GOP ammo in November's elections.

"But it's important to remember that the GOP is already all-in on making opposition to (the Obamacare), the cornerstone of its 2014 campaign. If she hadn't made that comment, there would be some other statement or mishap that would be under fire from the right," Galdieri said.

"I suspect we will hear a lot about this comment from Republican candidates, but I don't think this comment, in and of itself, will change minds that would have otherwise been unaffected by Republicans campaigning against Obamacare," he said.

Republicans reacted fiercely in recent days after hearing the news of Sebelius' resignation. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said via Twitter the outgoing health secretary had "an impossible task: nobody can make Obamacare work."

The healthcare law gained controversy several months back after millions of Americans were dropped from their healthcare coverage after their plans failed to adhere to the Affordable Care Act's new guidelines, sparking ire from many Americans and triggering an onslaught of negative media coverage.

Also grabbing headlines was the botched rollout of the law's centerpiece website, healthcare.gov, which in its first months was riddled with technical errors, although most of those problems have since been repaired.

Still, the resignation was not a completely negative development for Democrats, Galdieri noted.

"I tend to think that her resignation would not be taking place if she, the president, and others in the administration didn't think the worst of the rollout was behind them ... I think this tells us President Obama is feeling pretty good about where things stand after the problems with the rollout last year," Galdieri said.

The healthcare law continues to see controversy. While 7.5 million Americans have enrolled, critics question whether new enrollees are among those who were dropped from their coverage in the first place.

"Republicans certainly will run against Sebelius and the poor ( healthcare law's) rollout. She was the person in charge of ( healthcare law's) implementation and did not exercise strong oversight over the process." Darrell West, vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, told Xinhua.

However, Sebelius' departure helps Democrats because it removes her from the mix and gives Obama "an opportunity to turn the page and say new people are in charge and things are going better at this point," West said.

"Having a new face at the head of the major healthcare department helps to change the narrative and tell the public that implementation will go better from here on out," he said.

Editor: yan
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