Feb, 26, 2015

Sebelius Highlights ACA Successes in Princeton Appearance

In a recent appearance at the Woodrow Wilson School, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius spoke about “The Future of Health Care in America.” Her discussion highlighted several aspects of the Affordable Care Act, which she described as one of the most significant policy achievements in recent history. The State Network team at Princeton had an opportunity to speak with Secretary Sebelius, and to share insights from some ongoing work in the states.

Secretary Sebelius opened her remarks by discussing her background as Governor of Kansas from 2003 to 2009, also previously having served as the state’s elected Insurance Commissioner from 1995 to 2003. Secretary Sebelius identified three emerging trends in the future of American health care. Among these are an increasing move toward data-driven decisions in health care, including the proliferation of electronic health records, continuing movement toward personalized medicine and targeted therapies, and a developing recognition of the impact of global health issues.

Sebelius argued that despite the opposition to the ACA, the law has had a significant impact on the lives of individual Americans. She told of a woman in Lawrence, KS, who was able to fulfill a lifelong dream of opening a diner, made possible by the quality insurance coverage available in the new Marketplaces. Secretary Sebelius noted the ways in which the ACA has been instrumental in reducing the number of uninsured Americans by providing access to affordable health coverage, highlighting recently released sign-up numbers at the close of the law’s second open enrollment period.

Sebelius also stressed that the law doesn’t end at coverage, but also makes significant strides toward reducing costs through payment and delivery system reform efforts, pointing to the fact that since the passage of the ACA, the overall health care cost trajectory nationally is beginning to level out. A recent series of issue briefs produced by the Center for Health Care Strategies has been developed for states interested in value-based purchasing for health care, a trend identified by Secretary Sebelius. The continuing adoption of electronic health records cited by Sebelius, and the associated increase in access to information and communication between records, are key drivers in the move toward value-based purchasing.

Secretary Sebelius’ remarks at Princeton demonstrated that since the passage of the law, the American health care system has witnessed a significant dent in the uninsured rate, strides toward lower spending increases, general improvement of care, and an explosion in the number of health care startups, which she highlighted as evidence that the ACA has had a positive impact not only on individuals, but also on the economy.