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Secretary Sebelius: Time to Tour Country Explaining How the Affordable Health Care Act Works

Posted: 08/06/2012 12:10 pm

Walter Cronkite: "I feel people should know about the world, should know the truth as much as possible." (Cronkite, by Douglas Brinkley, p. 665)

Health care is very complicated -- one of the reasons physicians spend so much time in school, then in training, and then in constantly updating themselves.

Health care is also highly personal. Its availability and the means to access it is critical to every single person in the country.

Now that the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act has been established, it is time for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, along with her minions, to get out in the country to explain what it offers and how it works. It is not to extol its virtues, or defend it against its opponents -- that is an old story.

People need to know how it is going to work for them. Politicians are never the best source of unvarnished information, even less so in election years. They are also very bad sources of technical information. HHS is the department that will administer the law, and the Secretary and her associates should be out in the country, holding town halls, to explain it.

Of course, Republicans will denounce it. But, so what? They would denounce anything. And, if "Obamacare" is as bad as Republicans say, they should applaud the Secretary's town halls, since people will -- by their reckoning -- be learning all the reasons the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the law is, as Congressman Pence (R-IN) called it, "another 9/11." (Of course, he himself enjoys government-provided health care, doesn't he? He just does not want it for you.)

Moreover, regardless of what politicians on either side say, the American people deserve to know from the professionals what is covered and how it works.

Those who already have health insurance coverage may want to be reassured that they can keep it if they wish. Parents of children with pre-existing illnesses need to know what to do to be certain of coverage. Those who are coming up against their lifetime caps need to know how to make sure they are no longer imposed. Women need to know how they can get reproductive care, and screening mammograms. Small businesses need to know how they qualify for tax credits. The working poor need to find out when their subsidies kick in. Those who have individual coverage (i.e., not through their employers) need to know what the "exchanges" are, when they will be established, how they will work, and why their premiums should decrease when they, like large employers, are treated as a large pool of people, rather than individuals with risk factors. People need to know how to get the preventative care now made available under this "terrorist act."

It makes no sense to wait. Various parts of the Act begin at different times. Health care is complicated, and the process of learning the new system will take some time. The idea that it may be repealed in January 2013 if the president is not re-elected is true, but it is not unique to this law. Congress can always decide to repeal any law, or parts of it, or change it, at any time and the president, no matter who he or she may be, can decide to sign the repeal and/or changes or not. If biblical certainty of strict immutability is required before it is explained, nothing ever will be.

Secretary Sebelius, time for you and your aides to travel the country, explaining the nation's new healthcare system.

Where are you? What are you doing that is more important?

 

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