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July 11, 2012

Sebelius defends Affordable Care Act


Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. (UPI/Kevin Dietsch)

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- The Affordable Care Act has held down the cost of U.S. healthcare and health insurance, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday.

In an op-ed piece in The Washington Post, Sebelius called on Republicans in Congress to work with President Obama on healthcare. Instead, she said they will hold another repeal vote Wednesday.

"Fortunately for those Americans whose health and finances depend on protections in the law, the vote is only symbolic," Sebelius said. "But it's worth setting the record straight about some false claims that have recently resurfaced."

Those claims include that the act has driven up the cost of healthcare and insurance premiums and is especially expensive for small business.

She said that healthcare costs, which had been rising at an average of 7 percent a year, increased by less than 4 percent annually in the past two years, for a total cost savings of $220 billion. She said the rate of increase of insurance premiums also dropped.

The percentage of small businesses offering health coverage dropped from less than 70 percent to less than 60 percent between 2000 and 2009 because of high per capita costs and because premiums could increase dramatically if one worker got seriously ill.

"People are entitled to their opinions, but not to their own facts," she said. "And the facts in this case are clear: Since the Affordable Care Act was passed, national health spending is rising at a slower rate, health insurance premiums are rising at a slower rate, small-business coverage is holding steady and Medicare is on a stronger financial footing."

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