Sylvia Burwell: “ObamaCare Is A Success, Especially In Florida”

Exclusive: Sylvia Burwell Discusses Affordable Health Care Act

For President Barack Obama, the Affordable Health Care Act will define his presidency. While it’s had a rocky start and lacks the bipartisan approval, it’s been a very controversial law, it can’t be denied that it has changed the American healthcare system. Aside from some of the issues that have Republicans wanting to repeal the act, it also suffers from something else–people don’t realize the success the Affordable Health Care Act has had in Florida.

“In the state of Florida, the rate of uninsured has gone down from 21 percent to about 13 percent,” Secretary of Health and Human Resources Sylvia Burwell told News Talk Florida. “Florida has the highest enrollment rate in the nation at 1.5 million. While Florida has seen a lot of success, we know that there is more work to do.”

Sylvia Burwell’s Interview with Washington Bureau Chief on a special edition of “The Politically Incorrect Podcast.”

However, many Republicans have been chomping at the bit to convince the public, especially in Florida, how Obamacare has failed the American people. Since it’s inception, the Affordable Health Care Act has been a big talking point for both the GOP and the Democratic Party. But still the act gets a bad rap in the public eye due to misinformation from politicians.

“I think that people define the entire healthcare system by the Marketplace is one of them,” Burwell shared. “People don’t realize all of the things that the ACA does beyond the marketplace such as preexisting conditions or having your child on your plan until they turn 26.”

With GOP pundits saying it is a failure and the Democrats saying it is a success it was time to do some digging on the benefits of the act. Many say that premiums have gone up since the Act was made into law health care prices have risen at the lowest rate in 50 years.

“I think when people are talking about premiums, it’s important for them to have the facts,” Burwell said. “There are 150 million people in America using employer sponsored insurance versus the 11 million in the Market Place. Last year, those 150 million only had 4 percent growth in their premiums and that is up against the 8 percent growth that occurred ten years before the Affordable Health Care Act.”

According to H.H.S. data, premiums for the 150 million Americans with employer-sponsored insurance have grown at some of the slowest rates on record. And, a recent analysis finds that 82 percent of Marketplace consumers in Florida would be able to purchase coverage for less than $75 per month, even if all rates went up 25 percent.

Another way that it helps is tax credits are designed to protect consumers from rate increases and keep coverage affordable, increasing by whatever amount the cost of the second-lowest-cost silver, or benchmark plan increases when the consumer goes through the Marketplace. So if all premiums in a market go up by similar amounts, the large majority of consumers in that market will not have to pay more, since tax credits will increase in parallel.

Last year, despite headlines projecting double-digit rate increases, the average premium increased just $2 per month for Florida consumers with tax credits.  Even if premiums and tax credits rise, the overall cost of the ACA is still below CBO’s original projections. CBO’s recent projections estimate that for 2019 coverage, ACA coverage will cost $49 billion less than originally predicted.

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Consumers can shop around to find the best plan

In 2016, consumers could choose among an average of 10 plans per issuer. Variations in provider network and drug formulary makeup from plan to plan can offer consumers meaningful choice. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, it was almost impossible to shop around for health insurance.

“it’s important that people do come and shop because that shopping is very important to come in and find the plan that’s best suited for them,” she said. “We want more and more competition, we are fortunate that Florida has a healthy competition but there are some others that do not. [However] it’s still early as we are only in our fourth year of having the Marketplace.”

Today, any Marketplace consumer can purchase any plan during open enrollment, and Marketplaces let consumers compare prices, plan designs, and networks to find the best choice for them. Last year, more than 38 percent, or 382,990 returning Florida consumers switched plans. They saved an average of $34 per month. Current Marketplace rates are well below initial Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections.Independent researchers recently calculated that 2016 Marketplace rates are anywhere between 12 percent and 20 percent below what CBO initially predicted.

CBO’s projections show that the law is working to cover the uninsured, while costing less than expected. Recent estimates find that the law’s coverage provisions will cost 28 percent less in 2019 than in CBO’s original projections.

Medicaid expansion lowers Marketplace premiums by 7 percent

In addition to limiting access to coverage for millions of Americans, the decision not to expand Medicaid also has costs for Marketplace consumers, who pay significantly higher premiums than they would if the coverage provisions of the ACA were working together in their state as intended.

Economic analysis finds that Medicaid expansion brings down Marketplace rates by 7 percent, even after controlling for differences across states in demographic characteristics, pre-ACA uninsured rates, health care costs, and state policy decisions.

At the end of the day, it seems that the Affordable Health Care, while still flawed, has done a lot more good than bad–even if the GOP feels otherwise.

Editor’s note: On Wednesday at the University of South Florida President Barack Obama was to have given a speech at the college of medicine. Due to weather concerns due Hurricane Matthew, President Obama will reschedule.

Stats used in the story provided by the United States Government.  

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.