Brennan Linsley/AP

Acting CMS Chiefs Give Obamacare Staff a Thank-You Party

Career managers celebrate enrollment effort in endangered health care program.

Though many federal employees across government are likely feeling vulnerable in the Trump era, few are experiencing more uncertainty than the staff at the Health and Human Services Department who just shepherded through the open enrollment for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The three career employees currently running HHS’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Monday threw a modest party for staff involved in implementation of the 2010 law that is now in the crosshairs of the Republican-controlled Congress and the White House, according to an HHS employee who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The “market celebration” of the federal and state-based exchange programs at the Bethesda, Md.- based Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight included “light refreshments” and was videostreamed within the agency for employees in offices in Baltimore and the District of Columbia. “These are the people who had to keep the wheels turning, who worked their tails off for a program that is most up in the air,” the source said.

The three career leaders are acting CMS Administrator Patrick Conway, acting principal deputy Liz Richter and acting Chief Operating Officer Karen Jackson.

The Trump beachhead team running HHS on Feb. 1 announced, while calling the law a failure, that the staff overseeing the 2016 open enrollment season enrolled 9.2 million on and 3 million on individual state exchanges, a light drop from the previous year.

The designated head of CMS, health care consultant Seema Verma, saw her nomination reported out of the Senate Finance Committee on March 1 and awaits a full Senate vote.

HHS did not respond to requests for confirmation by publication time.