I’d never thought I would hear a debate on federalism with regard to essential health benefits on TV, much less on Comedy Central. But there it was, when HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
The extended interview (posted on the web) goes into even more depth–actuarial value is discussed! Although in fairness, that term prompted an apology from Secretary Sebelius, and caused Jon Stewart to mock-fall-asleep.
Jon Stewart seems overly cynical. While there’s certainly has been areas where the implementation of the law hasn’t gone as far or been as complete as we would like it to, his assumptions start with the negative–even chastising the audience for being positive about some of the benefits. And the area where he questioned the most–the medical loss ratio, what Secretary Sebelius calls the 80-20 rule, to ensure than premium dollars go to patient care rather than administration and profit–the Administration has actually held up firm, despite a withering lobbying assault from insurers, brokers, and red states. Secretary Sebelius was right–they have rejected most waiver requests, and upheld a solid definition despite attempts by many to exclude brokers fees.
But the conversation is worth watching–Secretary Sebelius knows her stuff, and has the polish of someone who’s been a Governor and an Insurance Commissioner, and I doubt any news program on any commercial network has had a conversation this detailed–and none with some laughs thrown in as well.