Transcript: HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius on the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act

Edited by Jenny Jiang

Transcript of telephone press briefing with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius on the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act on June 29, 2012:

“Over the last two years, I’ve seen first hand the huge difference the law is already making in the lives of millions of hardworking Americans.

“More than 5.2 million seniors have saved $600 each. Those are seniors with the highest prescription drug costs.

“The law’s also ensured that about 3.1 million young adults can start their careers with the certainty of health coverage.

“We have 100 million Americans with Medicare and private insurance that now are getting preventive services like mammograms and vaccinations at no charge to them.

“And we’ve finally begun to hold insurance companies accountable, ending some of their worst abuses.

“Now, I’ve been privileged to meet and speak with many of the people benefitting from the law. From Helen Graham, a grandmother in Philadelphia, who’s saving money on her medications that she’s now able to put toward her grandson to help with his education.

“I met with Abby Shanfield, who’s a student at the University of Minnesota born with a rare congenital disease. And now Abby no longer has to worry about losing her coverage on graduation day.

“Helen, Abby, and millions more Americans have peace of mind today knowing that the benefits and protections that are critical to their economic security will not be taken away.

“Yesterday’s decision also means we’ll keep moving forward with efforts to make the health insurance market work better for middle-class families and small business owners who buy their own coverage.

“Over the last two years, we’ve worked closely with states to begin building new health insurance marketplaces, where Americans will have more control over their insurance choices.

“In the new market, families and small business owners will get accurate information they can use to make apples to apples comparison in their private insurance plans, get financial help to make coverage more affordable if they’re eligible, and be protected from insurers discriminating against pre-existing health conditions.

“What that does is ensure that every American – whether they lose their jobs, change jobs, retire early or start a business – will be able to find a health insurance plan that works for their family without breaking the bank…

“And this afternoon, I am pleased to be joined by Mike Hash and Amanda Kelly to announce a new grant opportunity that will help states deliver these new marketplaces to their residents.

“Since the law passed, 49 states and the District of Columbia have accepted grants to plan their insurance marketplaces, and 34 of those states and the district have taken additional steps to make sure they’ll be ready by 2014.

“These funds will allow states to continue building on that progress. States will be able to use the fund for activities like streamlining the process for consumers to enroll in coverage or making it easier for them to find information on the plans.

“The grants will be available to all states, no matter where they are in the process of setting up their marketplace and no matter on whether they plan on running it themselves, partnering with another state, or partnering with the federal government. And states will also be able to apply for the grants until the end of 2014, using the funds for the building and start-up costs of their marketplaces.

“As we’ve said all along, we’re going to be working with the states every step of the way.

“This July, we’ll begin holding meetings around the country that will bring together officials from our department with state leaders and stakeholders to address challenges, answer questions, and talk about how we can keep moving forward.

“Our ultimate goal is to ensure that in 2014 every American who goes to buy their own health insurance coverage can find affordable options and accurate information they need to choose the plan that’s best for themselves and their families.

“Looking ahead, we’re going to keep working closely with states and other partners to implement the law. And as we’ve said from the start, we’ll also keep looking for opportunities to improve it.

“What we can’t afford to do is spend anymore time re-fighting political battles or going back to the days when insurance companies operated without accountability.

“We need to make sure that all Americans have the economic security of being able to get affordable health insurance, and [yesterday] announcement is another big step toward making that happen.”



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