Jennings, a respected healthcare policy adviser in the
Clinton administration, was brought on board last summer before
the flawed rollout of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known
as Obamacare, created one of the biggest political headaches
Obama has faced since entering office.
"Chris served the country at a time when he was needed most,"
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said in a statement.
"He will be deeply missed, but we all wish him the best and know
that he will continue to be a key player in health care and
always a champion for quality affordable health care for all
An aide who spoke on condition of anonymity blamed a recent
health scare and "other serious family considerations" for
Jennings has more than 30 years of experience in health policy
and served as a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton for
His arrival at the Obama White House was announced in July ahead
of what proved to be a critical juncture for the law. The
rollout of the program's primary website, HealthCare.gov, became
a disaster as deep technical problems prevented people from
signing up for coverage.
The website has improved since then, and the administration has
brought in other officials to fix the implementation problems,
including former legislative director Phil Schiliro and John
Podesta, a onetime chief of staff to Clinton who now serves as
counselor to Obama.
Associates of Jennings inside and outside the White House played
down the impact of his exit.
"It would concern me more if there were a whole raft of
departures. You're not seeing that," said Dan Mendelson, chief
executive of consultancy Avalere Health and a former colleague
of Jennings in the Clinton administration.
"He helped them a lot before he went into the White House, and
I'm sure he will help them a lot after he leaves."
The aide who spoke on condition of anonymity said Jeanne
Lambrew, another top healthcare adviser, and the rest of the
team would continue to focus on bringing healthcare costs down
and implementing the program in Jennings' absence.
"It has been a great privilege to work with the president and
his incredibly dedicated team on the Affordable Care Act,"
Jennings said in a statement.
"This is the cause of my professional life and I look forward to
making continued contributions to that end."
(Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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