HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: GOP Effort to Repeal Health Care Reform Is “An Opportunity”

Jan 18, 2011 11:27am

ABC’s Brian Hartman reports:

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters today she welcomes the House effort to repeal health care reforms as “an opportunity.”

“The debate in some ways in the House gives us a chance to … remind people what it is that’s at stake,” Sebelius said. “Why we can’t go back to where we were.”

Toward that end, HHS today released a new administration analysis that estimates the law will, when it fully kicks in three years from now, prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to between 50 and 129 million non-elderly Americans who have some type of pre-existing health condition. (That’s 19 to 50 percent of Americans under 65)

Why the wide-ranging estimate? Sebelius said “all 129 million Americans have some kind of a health condition” that can be “noted” by insurers. The smaller number, 50 million, represents those with very serious conditions who are eligible for high-risk pool coverage provided under the Affordable Care Act. About 10,000 people have enrolled in the federal high-risk pool so far. In the last month, HHS officials say, applications have doubled.

The Sebelius call featured a handful of people like Dawn Josephson, a mother who hosted President Obama in her backyard on September 22, 2010 for a health care reform discussion. Josephson says her son, who has a preexisting condition, has obtained coverage because of the Affordable Care Act.

“If this got overturned I mean it would put our family right back to where we were last summer, where we’d be wondering, ‘OK, what can we possibly do to scale back benefits. Because if we have to pay everything out of pocket again then we cannot have any kind of comprehensive health insurance.”


Sebelius is on the daybook for two more events today. At noon she gives a speech at Howard University School of Divinity where, per AP, “she is expected to discuss the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as a continuation of the nation's civil rights struggle as part of the university's annual celebration of the Rev. Martin Luther King's legacy.”

And at 3:30 PM she is scheduled to hold another conference call, this one with Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, to “discuss impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act on the region's economy, residents and businesses.”

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