Governor Rick Perry and other state leaders have been ferocious in their opposition to the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare.
But Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been visiting major Texas cities, where she says local leaders understand the benefits of the law.
In Houston, she met with healthcare leaders and politicians from both parties, like Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.
The group met downtown at the historic Julia Ideson library near City Hall.
Emmett, a Republican, says it’s now about making the law work.
“The law is in place. People are still arguing about whether it should be repealed or shouldn’t be repealed, but it is in place. And in the meantime, here in Harris County we have an inordinate number of underinsured and uninsured people — who right now the taxpayers of Harris County are paying for [their] health care.”
Sebelius then visited Legacy Community Health Services, a clinic in the Montrose. She spoke to community workers who are being trained to do outreach to young, healthy, uninsured adults.
These so-called “young invincibles” often don’t think they need insurance until it’s too late.
Sebelius says the Affordable Care Act has already helped some of them by letting them stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26.
But she says very soon the law will help them buy their own policies, too.
“For millions of young people health insurance hasn’t been an option. Because it’s been out of reach or they’ve aged out of a policy or they’re tapped out. They may be in a job that doesn’t offer affordable coverage, or they think it costs too much. But with new affordable coverage options available right around the corner, on October 1, we need to get the word out to people.”
On October 1, people can start signing up for new plans, and many will be eligible for subsidies to pay for the insurance.
Sebelius gave an example of a 30-year-old Houston woman who makes $17,000 a year.
Right now that woman might pay $200 a month for her own policy, but under Obamacare her premium would drop to about $55 a month.
That rate means a young woman would pay about the same for insurance as a young man in the same income bracket.
Sebelius notes that wasn’t always the case in the past.
“And good news, being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition come 2014. It’s about time.”
Young Invincibles Video Contest
Sebelius says Health and Human Services is working with national organizations like the Young Invincibles network to educate young people about their options under the Affordable Care Act.
Sebelius also announced a national video contest to target this young, digital demographic.
People who make a clever video about Obamacare’s benefits to young adults could win thousands of dollars in prizes.
In a statement, Gov. Rick Perry dismissed the video contest as a gimmick:
“If Obamacare were sound health care policy, Secretary Sebelius wouldn’t have to resort to video contests and prizes to tempt people to sign up. Texans are already subject to too much costly and burdensome federal regulation, and Obamacare only makes the problem worse.”