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Chris Jennings to leave post as WH health-care adviser

A Tea Party member reaches for a pamphlet titled "The Impact of Obamacare", at a "Food for Free Minds Tea Party Rally" in Littleton, New Hampshire in this October 27, 2012 file photo. The Obama administration said on July 2, 2013 it would not require employers to provide health insurance for their workers until 2015, delaying a key provision of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law by a year, to beyond the next election. REUTERS/Jessica Rinald A Tea Party member reaches for a pamphlet titled "The Impact of Obamacare", at a "Food for Free Minds Tea Party Rally" in Littleton, New Hampshire in this October 27, 2012 file photo.REUTERS/Jessica Rinald

Senior White House health-care adviser Chris Jennings is leaving, the administration announced Thursday.

"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. "I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to serve.  It has been an honor to help ensure that the promise of affordable, quality health care embodied in this historic law becomes the reality for all Americans.  This is the cause of my professional life and I look forward to making continued contributions to that end."


In a statement, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough praised Jennings for his work.

"We are all focused on reducing health care costs and implementing the Affordable Care Act. Nobody did so with more intellect, fortitude, and heart than Chris Jennings," he said. "Chris served the country at a time when he was needed most. He will be deeply missed but we all wish him the best and know that he will always champion quality affordable health care for all Americans."

One individual, who asked not to be identified in order to discuss a personnel matter, said Jennings decided to depart for health and family reasons.

Jennings, a well-known expert who served for six years as President Bill Clinton’s chief health-care adviser, returned to the White House in July to help with the fall launch of the federal health insurance marketplace. He had worked closely with the insurance industry as well as other groups involved in the Affordable Care Act's implementation..

“He came in at a time when the rollout of the health law was going through a very difficult time, with a crisis erupting virtually every day," said one person familiar with Jennings' decision. "And while it still has challenges ahead, things are in much better shape now. It was the fact that the rollout was in crisis that drew him into the administration to begin with.”

“If not for his health, I have no doubt would stayed longer. He certainly planned to,” the person said, adding that Jennings probably would not have stayed until the end of Obama’s second term.

While Jennings' departure leaves President Obama with one less senior aide overseeing how the law is being carried out, the operation has been bolstered by the recent addition of Phil Schiliro, Obama's former chief legislative liaison, who is now overseeing the policy side of implementation.

Jennings -- who closed down a lucrative health policy consulting business in order to join the administration -- had scaled back his activities in recent weeks due to his personal situation, according to several people.

Updated at 4:20 p.m.






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