On Tuesday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter telling state governors that the Obama administration is willing to work with them on the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion, even though the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the expansion made state participation optional, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
Sebelius wrote, "Now that the Supreme Court has issued a decision, we want to work with you to achieve our ultimate shared goal of ensuring that every American has access to affordable, quality health care." She also included details about a series of meetings that HHS will host in several states so that federal and state officials can discuss the Medicaid expansion and the creation of health insurance exchanges under the health reform law.
In an acknowledgement that some Republican governors have publicly declined to participate in the Medicaid expansion or create the exchanges, Sebelius noted that the "[Supreme] Court's decision did not affect other provisions of the law" (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 7/11).
Sebelius Touts Health Reform Benefits, Criticizes House Repeal Vote
The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the health reform law was "a chance to stop refighting old political battles and move forward" with implementing the law, Sebelius wrote in a recent opinion piece in the Washington Post. However, "congressional Republicans will spend Wednesday staging yet another repeal vote," she noted.
While the vote "is only symbolic," Sebelius said that it is "worth setting the record straight about false claims" about the law, such as it drives up health care costs, puts a burden on small businesses and eliminates Medicare benefits.
"People are entitled to their opinions, but not to their own facts," Sebelius wrote, noting that "national health spending is rising at a slower rate, health insurance premiums are rising at a slower rate, small-business coverage is holding steady and Medicare is on a stronger financial footing."
She concluded, "Now that the Supreme Court has issued a decision, the American people would be better served if Congress joined the president in working to build on that progress, not undo it" (Sebelius, Washington Post, 7/9).