2014-04-12T030611Z_1_CBREA3B08MD00_RTROPTP_2_USA-HEALTHCARE-OBAMA

With new leader for Obamacare, White House shifts to election mode

U.S. President Obama announces Director of the Office of Management and Budget Burwell as his nominee to replace outgoing Health Secretary Sebelius, during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White HouseBy Steve Holland, Roberta Rampton and David Morgan WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Kathleen Sebelius’ departure as President Barack Obama’s health secretary signals a new chapter in the White House’s efforts to defend Obama’s signature healthcare law and help Senate Democrats who face tough battles for re-election in conservative states this fall. In the tightly orchestrated transition that included Sebelius’ resignation late Thursday and Obama’s quick appointment of well-regarded budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell as Sebelius’ replacement, the political calculus was clear: Having stood by Sebelius during a painful few months when Obamacare’s rollout was marred by a balky enrollment web site, stinging criticism from Republicans and falling popularity ratings for Obama, the White House saw a chance to reset the national conversation over Obamacare amid good news, and with a new face in charge of the program.

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