White House Talks to Consumer Health Leaders

Last week my colleague Beth Abbott and myself traveled to Washington, DC to participate in a White House Briefing for Consumer Health Leaders.  We were joined by health care advocates from across the country as well as fellow Californian Cary Sanders from the California Pan Ethnic Health Network.

The event was hosted by the US Department of Health and Human Services.  Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services thanked advocates for their work and highlighted the important role we play in moving forward implementation.  “Roll up your sleeves, the fun has just begun” Sebelius said, pointing out that advocates have existing trusted relationships with difficult-to-reach populations that it will be important to reach out to about the ACA.  The Secretary also pointed out that just one year from now, people will be signing up for their coverage made possible by the Affordable Care Act.

Gary Cohen, Director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (also known as CCIIO, they’re largely in charge of implementation of ACA) and Michael Hash, Director of the Office of Health Reform at HHS gave a policy update that largely consisted of reassuring advocates that federal guidance and details on a number of outstanding issues, such as the Basic Health Plan, are forthcoming.

The last portion of the program consisted of a panel with HHS External Affairs, Regional Directors, and Julie Bataille, Director of Communications at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  Ms. Bataille listened earnestly to suggestions from consumer advocates, though time constraints limited full discussion. 

We hope and expect this was not the only opportunity that we will have to share our concerns and ideas with HHS, and we look forward to the work ahead.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.