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Life Health > Health Insurance > Health Insurance

Sebelius rallies the troops

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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Tuesday urged officials in states with HHS-run public exchanges to push for enrollment through faith-based organizations, campuses and community groups.

Enrollers should target the young and the healthy because their attention is the hardest to get, plus that group’s participation in the exchanges is needed to help hold down the cost of coverage, Sebelius said.

Sebelius called the young, healthy and uninsured “high target populations.”

Sebelius was rallying local community health program officials eight weeks into the 26-week Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act open enrollment period.

She appeared on a national conference call that was focused on people she described as “locally elected validators” – including a county clerk in Milwaukee and state legislators in Pennsylvania and Florida – but open to the media.

Sebelius said the HHS exchanges’ enrollment system is seeing “more and more enrollments every day,” and that activity will continue to improve after Dec. 1.

She said HHS is “definitely on track to have a significantly different user commitment by the end of this month,” but she warned that there is no “magic turn-on switch.”

“We have added hardware, added software, and are working on the parts of the website that were confusing to people,” Sebelius said. 

Also during the call:

  • Local officials appeared to be confused by recently announced exchange plan enrollment date changes. The Obama administration recently announced the enrollment deadline for coverage starting Jan. 1 is now Dec. 23. The old deadline was Dec. 15. Sebelius said HHS has worked with carriers to push enrollment back “as far as we could.” 
  • Sebelius said HHS hopes to be able to break exchange enrollment down by age and zip code soon but cannot provide that information at this time.
  • Sebelius said that the individual health insurance policies now being canceled provided very few consumer protections, and that the individual market sees insurance company turnover on a regular basis. 
  • Sebelius noted more states seem to be open to taking PPACA Medicaid expansion funding. “We have seen recently seen that the governor of Pennsylvania (Tom Corbett), a Republican, wants to pursue Medicaid expansion,” Sebelius said. She added that about 30 governors have endorsed Medicaid expansion, and that 25 are moving forward in their state legislatures with Medicaid expansion measures.

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