Of the many meetings that I had last week in Washington, DC, around the crucial work of implementing and improving the new federal health law, the highlight was my lunch with the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. She broke bread with a handful of consumer advocates, to discuss the work ahead to fulfill the promise of reform at the state level.
Given that the real work of implementation is at the state level (as well as last Tuesday’s elections), she is perhaps ideal for this job in providing guidance and resources to the states, as a former Insurance Commissioner and Governor of the red state of Kansas.
The Secretary got to hear about how implementation was proceeding in various states, and opinions about how she could advance the effort. Secretary Sebelius blogged about our meeting on the new web portal www.healthcare.gov, a resource that continues to get better as a very comprehensive resource for people to understand their rights and options when getting health insurance.
My colleagues at Health Care for All, Massachussetts also blogged on the meeting, reflecting on some of the lessons they have learned from their early implementation of their state-based reform.
Finally, Politico reported on the visit, which simply indicates the work that Secretary Sebelius has done to engage Governors in the many practical ways that health and human services are essential to the work of the states.
It was a good meeting, and it underscored the notion that the responsibility for making reform real, for people to get the care and coverage that they need, is in the states, in Sacramento and state capitols and local communities. We have our work cut out for us.