Thursday morning, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius addressed a ballroom in Washington, D.C. of more than 200 people invested in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
"Thanks to ACA, we're seeing a new health insurance market emerge, where much needed oversight is beginning to get in place, with a new level of transparency to force them to adopt a brand new business model," Sebelius said at Families USA 17th Annual Health Action Conference.
With the anniversary of PPACA approaching in March, she said she welcomes an upcoming change that small businesses will soon be able to band together to negotiate rates comparable to larger businesses. She also touted the tax breaks on health care bills that may allow small businesses to hire more employees and make sure they maintain health insurance. Despite these advances, she acknowledged that recent attacks from Republicans have made it an uneasy time: "The laws opponents will take their best shot because they know they have to do it now, because the facts are not on the side."
She gave the audience two goals to counter these attacks: Educate people about the law and make sure the "benefits reach people." Beginning this year, insurance companies that violated the law’s 80/20 profit rule will send customers rebate checks.
Also speaking were other politicians and academics. Among them was Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), who said the term "Obamacare" — generally used by PPACA’s critics—actually should be adopted by the law’s supporters. "One day it'll be Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Obamacare," she said.
Offering an opposing view, Stuart Altman, a professor of national health policy at Brandeis University, said that the issue is not whether it is possible to control growth in health care spending, it is whether there is the political will to control costs.
"If 2012 turns against us, life will not be pleasant," he said, commenting that the only reason PPACA passed was that there was a democratic president and Congress. "It doesn't destroy the insurance industry, it just whacks them over the head."
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