As the end of 2013 approaches, the Washington Examiner is taking a look back at the biggest stories and issues of the year. Today, it's health care.
The rollout of Obamacare has been a months-long headache for the Obama administration, highlighted by the troubles with healthcare.gov upon the website's launch and the president's broken promise that people could keep health plans if they liked them. Along the way, key players like Kathleen Sebelius and Marilyn Tavenner emerged, and both sides kept one eye on the 2014 midterm elections throughout.
Here are some of the top Examiner stories of 2013 on health care:
Can Kathleen Sebelius rescue Obamacare?
By Susan Crabtree, Sept. 27
As director of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius played an outsized roll in Obamacare's rollout. Days before the insurance exchanges opened, the Examiner profiled her.
"Sebelius could have left government for a lucrative job in the private sector after Obama's first term. Instead, she remained a loyal lieutenant to the president and has dug in for the long fight.
Part of her motivation, supporters say, may have come from watching the political career of her father, John Gilligan, and recognizing the historic role she can play to bolster the core Democratic values her family embraced.
Gilligan, a free-wheeling Irish Catholic and Great Society Democrat who passed away late last month, represented the GOP stronghold of Cincinnati in Congress from 1965 to 1967 when Medicare and Medicaid were created. He was later elected governor of Ohio in 1970, but narrowly lost his re-election bid.
“Kathleen has probably proven herself a better politician than her father,” Loomis said. “John Gilligan had a little bit more of an Irish Catholic in him. If he had slightly smoother edges and was a less interesting character, he might have won more elections.”
Medicare chief relies on bipartisan goodwill to weather Obamacare storm
By Brian Hughes, Nov. 1
Only months after being confirmed as Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator, Marilyn Tavenner was dropped into the Obamacare storm.
"As Congress probes the website's problems, it remains to be seen if Tavenner will be viewed as someone with an impossible task -- and simply taking marching orders from Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius -- or as a chief architect of the flawed rollout.
Lawmakers and those who worked with Tavenner praised her managerial chops ahead of an emphatic 91-7 confirmation vote last May in the Senate. Over her career, Tavenner earned the trust of those on both sides of the aisles, building goodwill that could help her survive the challenges ahead.
Tavenner, 62, began her career as a nurse and rose to become chief executive officer at her Richmond, Va., hospital before taking a national post with the parent company, the Hospital Corporation of America. She later served as health secretary under former Gov. Tim Kaine, D-Va.
Obamacare troubles have not hurt the president's fundraising
By Rebecca Berg, Nov. 15
Obama's fundraising continued to be a well-oiled machine despite the public disapproval of the president's health plan.
"The president continues his run of fundraisers for the party ahead of the 2014 mid-term congressional elections and, as he demonstrated at a recent private gathering in Dallas, he's even found a way to turn the touchy political subject into a punchy laugh line in his fundraising speeches.
“Now, I think it’s fair to say that right now I am not happy with some IT people in Washington,” Obama told an intimate crowd of high-dollar Democratic donors, who responded with laughter.
“The website has not functioned," Obama admitted. "Nobody is angrier than I am about it. And we’ve got to make sure that we get it fixed, and we’re going to get it fixed by the end of this month.”
EXography: States say most uninsured still won't be covered in 2014
By Richard Pollock, Dec. 16
A piece by the Examiner's Watchdog team delved into state-by-state data to estimate how many uninsured Americans still won't have health coverage a year after Obamacare takes effect
"According to the Urban Institute, which compiled the state estimates, about 63 percent of the uninsured will still be without coverage on Oct. 1, 2014. ...
The state projections contradict President Obama's promise that passage of the Affordable Care Act would assure every American of health insurance coverage.
It also appears that in some of the states where officials most enthusiastically embraced Obamacare, the plight of the uninsured will persist for years to come.