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Senate confirms Burwell as new health secretary

WASHINGTON – The Senate has confirmed Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be the nation’s new health secretary and steward of the president’s health care law.

The 78-17 vote was a bipartisan show of support for the veteran government manager who most recently served as President Barack Obama’s budget director.

But Burwell will have to act quickly to head off more insurance chaos this fall.

Despite a strong finish to open enrollment this year, HealthCare.gov is still dealing with unresolved issues ranging from possibly inaccurate insurance payments, to e-commerce basics.

The White House desperately wants to avoid more attention-grabbing problems when sign-up season starts Nov. 15. Democrats hope that Burwell’s confirmation might usher in a fresh start for Obamacare, but Republicans indicate they won’t play along.

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