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Bipartisan Advice on Implementing the Affordable Care Act

Secretary Sebelius discusses today’s meeting where experts from both parties discuss ways to ensure that health care reform is implemented as quickly and effectively as possible.

As a former Governor and Insurance Commissioner, I believe that as part of our efforts to implement the Affordable Care Act, it is critical to reach out and take advantage of expertise outside government to ensure the new law is implemented as quickly and effectively as possible. We know that people had a variety of opinions during the debates on the legislation.  But now the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and we all have a stake in implementing it.

I’ve been holding a series of outreach meetings, to get input and advice.  Today, I hosted a bipartisan group of leaders, who all have experience implementing or writing major pieces of health care legislation.  This impressive group, which included former HHS Secretaries, a former CMS official, and a former Senate leader, shared the lessons they have learned and gave me some good suggestions.  I plan to check in with them and other leaders throughout the coming months.

Attending today’s meeting were:

Former HHS Secretary Louis Sullivan, who served under President George H.W. Bush, served as former President of Morehouse, and is a recognized leader on women's health who launched the Healthy People 2000 Initiative at the Department;

  • Former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala, the Department's longest-serving HHS Secretary, who currently serves as President of the University of Miami and who helped create and implement the Children's Health Insurance Program;
  • Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who crafted and passed the Medicare Modernization Act;
  • Chris Jennings, who served from 1993 to 2001 as President Clinton's Senior Health Care Advisor at the Domestic Policy and National Economic Councils, where he was charged with developing and implementing the Administration’s health care policy;
  • Nancy-Ann DeParle, current Director of the White House Office on Health Reform and one of the President' s point people on health reform implementation, who also headed CMS and shepherded the agency through the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.

Today’s meeting builds on our Department’s efforts to gather the best ideas and suggestions on how to implement the Affordable Care Act.  Over the past month, Administration and HHS officials held four briefings with Congressional staff on both sides of the aisle to answer questions and hear about how to better meet the needs of their constituents.  We also hold weekly calls with the staff of Governors, Insurance Commissioners, and other state officials to provide updates on implementation and answer questions. 

In May, I met with insurance executives to ask for their help in ensuring that the new consumer rights and benefits, as well as affordable coverage choices, are delivered as quickly as possible, and called on them to help keep premiums down.

In a few weeks, I will speak to the National Governors Association and will reach out to a bi-partisan group of Governors to hear their thoughts and ideas on the new law and build on our efforts to work together to help more Americans get affordable, quality health insurance.  And in the months ahead, I will continue to reach out across the country as we turn this new law into a reality for American families. 

I also appreciate the chance to answer questions directly from the American people in our webchats.  Today, we talked about how the Affordable Care Act strengthens the doctor-patient relationship, and invests in the training and development of a new generation of health care professionals. We will continue holding these discussions on a regular basis to remain engaged with the American people as implementation moves forward.  These webchats are one of many resources to help Americans understand how to take advantage of the new law to gain greater control over their health care and get access to quality, affordable care.  We encourage you to regularly check for the latest information.

Kathleen Sebelius is Secretary of Health and Human Services