HHS Secretary Sebelius, new face of health care - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

HHS Secretary Sebelius, new face of health care

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Surrounded by a majority of supporters of the Affordable Care Act Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius received a warm welcome to a visit Friday to Memphis.

Despite calls for her resignation, Secretary Sebelius expressed optimism the health care website will be successful when it's re-launched later this month.

MORE: Sebelius visits Memphis to push healthcare

As a governor's daughter, Sebelius grew up with politics as a backdrop. Whether it was helping her state survive devastating tornadoes or visiting troops in Iraq as a governor in her own right, Sebelius has shown a no-nonsense approach when it comes to reaching out to help people.

In some quarters, what she represents, has made her one of the most reviled public servants in America. But, with her head still held high, embattled HHS Secretary Sebelius came to Memphis on what's seems at times like her "Affordable Health care Traveling Mea Culpa Roadshow."

"The site doesn't work the way we need it to work," she said. "I don't know how many other ways I could've said it. I take full responsibility for launching a program when the site wasn't ready. We're here in football season and I like to remind people we are still in the first quarter of this game, and a lot of people would like to declare it game over."

But, if she remains the appointed quarterback to oversee the re-launch of the temporarily scuttled federal health insurance website, don't bet against the 65-year old twice-elected governor of Kansas to still pull out a victory. The daughter of former Ohio governor and congressman John Gilligan, Sebelius rose to prominence in 2002 when as a Democrat she won the Kansas governorship in a predominately Republican state.

During her tenure in Topeka, she was a strong critic of the policies of President George W. Bush. She was so outspoken, she was surprisingly chosen to give the national party's response to Bush's final State of the Union address in 2008.

"There is a chance, Mr. President, in the next 357 days, to get real results and give the American people renewed optimism that their challenges are the top priority," she said in 2008.

Though passed over for President Barack Obama's running mate later that year, Sebelius was ready for the call to become HHS secretary in 2009 when the president's nominee, veteran Sen. Tom Daschle, was forced to withdraw due to failure to pay his income taxes.

However, by the time she was brought on board most of the groundwork for the national healthcare program had already been done. Critics allege having to sell a program she originally didn't have a hand in remains a drawback to her efforts.

"I'm kind of used to people not agreeing with me and a lot of people suggesting I'm on the wrong path," Sebelius said. "Whatever frustration I feel and whatever issues come my way, this work is way too important to get off the path. I think we've come a long way. We are at a moment in history and I couldn't be more energized to continue this work each and every day."

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