TODAY   |  April 12, 2014

Meet Sylvia Matthews Burwell, the new face of health care

President Obama named Sylvia Matthews Burwell as the new secretary of Health and Human Services, replacing Kathleen Sebelius. Burwell enters the job with specific challenges regarding the Affordable Care Act and other initiatives. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>> reporter: that is leading ukraine to face more crises like the ones we're facing here in donestk. erica?

>> thank you.

>>> his choice to be the next health and human services secretary, replacing kathleen sebelius , who has been engulfed in controversy ever since the botched healthcare rollout. kristen welker is outside the white house . good morning.

>> reporter: good morning to you, carson. known here as being a tested manager. also a 48-year-old mom of two who sailed through her confirmation hearings last year, getting unanimous approval. in this election year, everything related to healthcare is sure to be contentious.

>> i'm humbled, honored and excited.

>> siylvia matthews, earning the president's high praise.

>> she's a proven manager who has demonstrated her ability to build great teams, forge strong relationships and deliver results at the highest levels.

>> so who is the woman behind the new face of healthcare? born in the small town of hinten, west virginia , she earned degrees from harvard and oxford where she's a rhodes scholar . the 48-year-old served in the clinton administration for eight years, including a stint as deputy chief of staff. as obama's omb director, she has overseen tense budget negotiations and helped manage last year's government shutdown.

>> she has good relations with republicans on the hill. that said, you could put mother theresa in as secretary of hhs and it would not change republicans' attitudes toward obamacare.

>> still, republicans will undoubtedly use her confirmation hearing to take fresh aim at obamacare in this mid term election year. republican house minority leader tweeted sebelius had an impossible task. no one can make obamacare work. saxby chambliss said he had concerns, john mccain tweet ed birdwell is an excellent choice.

>> the next enrollment deadline is just around the corner in november. in addition to overseeing the next enrollment period, burwell will have to oversee the next expansion of medicaid and keep premiums low. even if the confirmation hearings are contentious, she will likely get confirmed. white house officials say they hope that happens by the end of may. carson, back to you.

>> kristen welker at the white house this morning, thanks.