The Times West Virginian


April 16, 2014

State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary

Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.

For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.

Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.

Before that, she was deputy chief of staff in the Clinton administration, and she served as chief of staff to former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and as deputy director of the White House budget office during a period in which the federal government saw three consecutive budget surpluses.

But people soon will be hearing more about her. Just last week, Burwell was nominated to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

She also happens to be a West Virginia native.

If confirmed for the position, it won’t be an easy one. Burwell will inherit a beleaguered agency that desperately wants to move beyond the past several months, which have been characterized by the chaotic rollout of the Affordable Care Act and

But members of both parties say Burwell is up to the challenge of running the $1 trillion bureaucracy.

As reported by The Associated Press, those who have worked with Burwell describe her as meticulous, driven and results-oriented. Even Obama, when he announced Burwell’s nomination, said that in the year since she rejoined the White House, the annual deficit has dropped by more than $400 billion.

“She is a rigorous, relentless, proven manager,” Brian Deese, Burwell’s deputy in the budget office, said in an interview last week. “That is exactly what HHS needs right now.”

Deese couldn’t be more accurate. Health and Human Services is a complex program — a $1 trillion agency that plays a key role in American society and the economy. More than 100 million people receive coverage through Medicare, Medicaid and the new health care law. Burwell would also oversee the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates a broad range of consumer products, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It doesn’t help that the new health care law has faced many setbacks and low approval ratings. And despite the end of the initial open enrollment period, there are still challenges ahead, including keeping premiums affordable for 2015; overhauling the sign-up process to make it more consumer-friendly; working with states that are still opposed to or undecided about the law’s Medicaid expansion; and helping to guide administration policy on how to enforce the law’s penalties for individuals who remain uninsured and the medium- to large-sized businesses that do not provide affordable coverage to their employees.

It’s obvious that the agency needs someone who can bring a wealth of expertise in economics and government management to the job.

Burwell seems to be that person. As the AP has reported, she shepherded the federal government through a 16-day government shutdown imposed by Congress last year and helped secure a budget agreement with Congress that has temporarily averted political brinksmanship over the U.S. economy.

And we’re not the only ones who think Burwell is the right pick for this post. As Obama said last week, “Sylvia is a proven manager, and she knows how to deliver results.”

Delivering results will be crucial as Burwell takes on this latest role, but we’re confident it is one she will face with the same knowledge and drive she has brought to previous positions.

Text Only
  • If something seems too good to be true, then assume that it is

    Scam. noun. A confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle.
    This is a word that Marion Countians have heard a lot about in the past few years. And the problem appears to be one that is getting worse every day.

    July 31, 2014

  • State must convince parents, schools about benefits of Common Core

    It’s always nice to have a little bit of background information before diving into something new.
    So we have to agree with West Virginia Board of Education president Gayle Manchin when she says the state should have done a better job of explaining Common Core standards when they were first introduced.
    Those standards, part of a national educational initiative that sets learning goals designed to prepare students in kindergarten through 12th grade for college and career, will be fully implemented in every West Virginia school district next month.

    July 30, 2014

  • Time is now for Tomblin to support King Coal Highway

    U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to add the King Coal Highway project to West Virginia’s six-year highway improvement plan. It is a logical request, and one that Tomblin should act promptly on.

    July 29, 2014

  • United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project

    The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
    That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.

    July 27, 2014

  • COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard

    I love to talk to readers.
    I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.

    July 27, 2014

  • Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial

    NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
    And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.

    July 25, 2014

  • Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives

    It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
    We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely

    The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
    It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
    It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.

    July 23, 2014

  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life

    Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
    And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.

    July 20, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads