Burwell Wins Committee Approval As New Health Secretary

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Sylvia Burwell attending a Senate Health Committee hearing

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Finance Committee voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to approve Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s nomination to become the nation’s next health secretary and oversee implementation of the new health law.

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The 21-3 vote sent her nomination to the full Senate, where it likely will come to a vote next month.

Burwell, who has served as President Barack Obama‘s budget chief, would replace outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who announced her departure last month just as the health law was recovering from the disastrous rollout of HealthCare.gov website to post stronger-than-predicted enrollment numbers.

Despite expectations that Burwell’s confirmation hearings would become an election-year trial of “Obamacare,” there were no fireworks as she won support from senators of both parties.

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Voting against her Wednesday were Republican Sens. Pat Roberts, John Cornyn and John Thune.

Burwell, 48, seen as a competent insider, promised senators she would be more responsive to Congress than Sebelius. She will face significant challenges in sustaining the momentum of the health care law, including news she can’t control in the months ahead as insurers announce premiums for next year.

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