Former Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene will take over as the top official overseeing the rescue effort for the troubled HealthCare.gov
online insurance marketplace.
HHS said Tuesday that DelBene will replace Jeff Zients, who was brought on in October following the disastrous launch of the federal government's online portal for new insurance coverage in 36 states that declined to operate their own marketplaces. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius praised Zients for helping to improve the website enough that it's now working effectively for most users.
“Today, the site is night and day from what it was when it launched on October 1,” Sebelius wrote in a blog post announcing the appointment
. “I am very grateful for his service and leadership.”
On Monday it was disclosed
that Zients' appointment to serve as the White House's chief economic adviser will be delayed until February so that he can continue working on HealthCare.gov. But he'll now be joined by DelBene, who starts his new job on Wednesday. DelBene was previously president of the Microsoft Office division and spent two decades working for the software company.
Sebelius indicated that DelBene's duties will go beyond simply ensuring that the web site is functional. “Kurt will provide management expertise, operations oversight, and critical advice on additional enrollment channels, field operations, marketing and communications,” Sebelius wrote. “The president and I believe strongly in having one person, with strong experience and expertise in management and execution, who is thinking 24/7 about HealthCare.gov.”
DelBene's wife is U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.).Follow Paul Demko on Twitter: @MHpdemko