POLITICS: PennAve

Microsoft exec to replace Jeffrey Zients as healthcare.gov manager

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Politics,Barack Obama,Health Care,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,Kathleen Sebelius,Healthcare.gov,Jeffrey Zients,Technology

President Obama has tapped a former Microsoft executive to replace Jeffrey Zients as the manager of the health law's insurance exchange enrollment as Zients moves over to the White House to prepare to become chief economic adviser.

Kurt DelBene, the former president of the division of Microsoft responsible for its Office software, will take over managing healthcare.gov, as well as the implementation of the entire health exchange starting Wednesday.

Zients, a former Office of Management and Budget director, will spend roughly a month preparing for his role of top economic adviser to the president.

At the height of the error-riddled rollout of healthcare.gov, Zients was brought in to oversee the website's repair and make it functional for the majority of Americans trying to sign up for insurance on the new exchanges.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the decision to hire DelBene as Zients' successor in a blog post Tuesday.

“Jeff did an outstanding job working with our team to provide management advice and counsel on the healthcare.gov project,” she wrote. “Today, the site is night and day from what it was when it launched on Oct. 1.”

DelBene, she said, has “proven expertise in heading large, complex technology teams and in product development. He will be a tremendous asset to our work.”

“Kurt will work closely with me, the White House, and the teams and senior leadership in place at HHS and CMS to see this project through its next important phase as the CMS team continues to build on their initial progress,” she said.

DelBene has agreed to serve in this role for at least the first half of next year, Sebelius noted.

She said the creation of DelBene's role reflects ideas HHS has received from key stakeholders; including Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Chris Coons of Delaware, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Mark Udall of Colorado, and Mark Warner of Virginia.

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