Sebelius Visits Miami-Dade To Spread The Word On Health Care Reform

Sep 18, 2013

Starting October first, Floridians will be able to buy health insurance through a government-run website—or “health insurance exchange”—where consumers can compare plans and prices.

Under the Affordable Care Act, most uninsured adults who don’t purchase insurance or aren’t covered by employers will have to pay a fine come tax time.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited Miami on Tuesday for a panel discussion on healthcare changes.
Credit C.W. Griffin / Miami Herald Staff

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held a panel on the Affordable Care Act at Miami-Dade College on Tuesday but getting the word out hasn’t been easy in Florida.

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There are still a lot of details about the insurance exchange in Florida that haven’t been settled: like what plans will be available and how much they’ll cost.

“I think the single largest challenge is to get information to individuals who may be eligible for benefits but don’t know anything about the law,” Sebelius said.

This was Sebelius’s fifth visit to Florida since June. Florida originally lead the legal challenge against the Affordable Care Act—which was mostly upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Governor Rick Scott is still fighting the Act.

The law provides support for “navigators”—people trained to help the 24 percent of uninsured Floridians select an insurance plan. Citing privacy concerns, Gov. Scott’s administration has banned those navigators from operating in county health departments. Pharmacies and community health organizations are working to fill in the gaps. Meanwhile, opponents have asked to delay the exchanges.

“No one on the Hill who is suggesting delay wants the program to work,” said Sebelius.

Most of the audience at Miami-Dade College was either from the media or a health organization.

But Jeremy Dalmau, a college freshman, came with his class to hear Sebelius speak. Dalmau is uninsured but, after listening to the discussion of the exchanges, thinks he’ll be able to change that.

“Most likely I’ll be able to actually go to the doctor once in a while,” he said.