Another top Obamacare official to retire

This Dec. 20, 2013, file image shows part of the HealthCare.gov website in Washington. AP

Key Obamacare official Michelle Snyder is retiring, the administration announced Monday, making her the second high-level health official to leave since the botched Obamacare rollout in October.

Snyder is retiring from her post as chief operating officer of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) at the end of the year, CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner announced in an email.

In a congressional hearing in late October, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius named Snyder as one of the individuals in charge when the federal Obamacare website Healthcare.gov launched with major technical problems. In response to a question about whether Snyder should be held accountable for the website’s issues, Sebelius said, “Michelle Snyder is not responsible for the debacle; hold me accountable for the debacle.”

In her email Monday, Tavenner commended Snyder for her more than four decades of public service. She specifically praised Snyder for some of her professional accomplishments, such as leading the development of a health care accounting system that “introduced an unprecedented level of fiscal accountability and discipline to the management of hundreds of billions of dollars in annual Medicare program expenditures.”

Tavenner also added “an additional note of gratitude” to Snyder for delaying her planned 2012 departure from CMS. “She characteristically chose to postpone her retirement from Federal service at my request to help me with the challenges facing CMS in 2013,” Tavenner said.

House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., reacted to Snyder’s retirement announcement in a written statement Monday, disagreeing with Sebelius’ assessment of Snyder’s role.

"Documents and interviews indicate Michelle Snyder's involvement in bypassing the recommendation of CMS' top security expert who recommended delaying the launch of HealthCare.gov after independent testers raised concern about serious vulnerabilities from a lack of adequate security testing,” Issa said. "Americans seeking health insurance are left to shoulder the risk of a website that's still an all-around work in progress because of the cult like commitment officials had to the arbitrary goal of launching on October 1."

CMS chief information officer Troy Trenkle -- another key Obamacare official -- retired in November. 

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