2014-05-08T050156Z_1_CBREA470DZL00_RTROPTP_2_USA-HEALTHCARE-OBAMA

Senate panel to grill Obama's nominee for U.S. health secretary

U.S. President Obama listens after nominating Director of the Office of Management and Budget Burwell to replace outgoing Health Secretary Sebelius, during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White HouseBy David Morgan WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sylvia Mathews Burwell takes center stage on Thursday for the first of two Senate hearings that will determine whether the loyal White House insider will become the next public face of the controversial law known as Obamacare. The path to confirmation as U.S. health secretary is expected to be a smooth one for Burwell, a 48-year-old technocrat who was nominated on April 11 by President Barack Obama to replace outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Last year, Burwell sailed through the Senate on a 96-0 vote to become Obama’s budget director.

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