WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is bringing a former top aide with deep ties to Congress back to the White House to help get Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) implementation back on track.
Officials say Phil Schiliro, who as Obama’s top liaison to Capitol Hill helped push PPACA through Congress, is taking on a short-term assignment to help coordinate policy surrounding the law.
He’ll work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), other agencies and members of Congress.
CMMS oversees HealthCare.gov, the federal website that uninsured people are supposed to use to buy government-subsidized health insurance. Starting next year, virtually all Americans will be required to have coverage or face fines. But a cascade of technical problems overwhelmed HealthCare.gov when it went live on Oct. 1, frustrating consumers and sending Obama’s poll ratings into a dive.
After weeks of repairs, the administration announced last week that the worst of the technical problems had been fixed and that the site was working reasonably well for most users. But it’s too really to say if the website has really turned a corner. It’s also quite likely that the White House will stumble into another crisis as officials try to implement a complex, politically polarizing law with broad effects on society.
Schiliro’s appointment is comparable to that of Jeffrey Zients, the management expert and former Obama administration official who returned in mid-October to oversee the rescue of the dysfunctional website. But where Zients is an organizational troubleshooter, Schiliro brings years of political connections and health policy expertise to an insular White House.
Prior to his first stint in the administration, he had been a longtime adviser to California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, one of the co-authors of PPACA.
Schiliro left the White House about two years ago and moved to New Mexico, where he opened a business consulting for nonprofits.