PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s been one year since the Obama Administration’s health care act was put into place.
On Tuesday, Health and Human Resources Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited Pittsburgh. KDKA-TV’s Jon Delano sat down with her in an exclusive interview.
No piece of legislation in President Barack Obama’s term has been more controversial than his health care insurance reform bill.
President Obama’s point person on this issue was in Pittsburgh Tuesday and she essentially accused critics of the law of lying.
Pittsburgh seniors warmly greeted Sebelius on the anniversary of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
“One of the most important goals when the bill was passed was to strengthen Medicare,” Sebelius said.
Sebelius told seniors that the new law added 12 years to Medicare solvency and helped them cover medical expenses not covered in the so-called “doughnut hole.”
“This year, there will be a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs when a senior reaches the doughnut hole, and that’s a huge step forward. And, we figure it’s going to be an average of about $1,000 dollars in savings for those seniors who won’t have to pay out of pocket,” Sebelius said.
Another benefit for all seniors is getting one free wellness visit.
“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, everyone is entitled to a free wellness visit,” Sebelius said.
Sebelius also said the bill cracks down on Medicare fraud.
“We have many, many more tools in the new law to go after fraud,” Sebelius said.
Delano asked her about the many criticisms of the law.
“People who didn’t want the bill to pass in the first place actually made up lies about it and continued to repeat them, and we’re just trying hard to say to people it’s not true,” Sebelius said.
One of the law’s biggest critics is Gov. Tom Corbett. He even sued to stop its implementation. However, Sebelius said the feds are still helping Pennsylvania.
“Setting up new consumer assistance programs, to helping the Insurance Department hire more staff to look at rates, cracking down on insurance companies,” Sebelius said.
The bottom line is that Gov. Corbett is taking the money.
Sebelius: We’ve had about $82 million in resources come to Pennsylvania and put to work.
Delano: Sounds like we’re taking the money.
Sebelius: That’s happening in states across the country. The way the bill was written, in spite of the fact that critics have said this is a Washington takeover, nothing could be further from the truth.
Sebelius reaffirmed her belief that the Supreme Court will uphold the constitutionality of the law if and when Gov. Corbett’s lawsuit reaches the high court.
In the meantime, she said the law must be enforced and implemented.
As a former governor herself, she said governors are pragmatic people who usually don’t turn back federal dollars.