Keep Commitments to Medicare, Medicaid, Obama Urges in Inaugural Address
Jan. 24 — Americans should take collective action to come up with new responses to new challenges, including challenges related to health care, President Barack Obama urged in his second-term inaugural address Monday, witnessed by an estimated 800,000 to 1 million attendees.
“We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit,” President Obama said. “But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”
Hearkening back to the Declaration of Independence, Obama stressed the nation’s obligation to collectively protect each individual’s inalienable rights now and for posterity. “The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us,” the president said. “They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”
That word “risk,” however, has some state leaders uncomfortable, particularly in regard to how to specifically implement state medical exchanges, one concrete aspect of the Affordable Care Act that President Obama helped push through in his first term of office. The aim is for these exchanges—also called health insurance marketplaces—to be one-stop shops that will provide consumers and small businesses access to quality, affordable private health insurance choices, starting in 2014.
However, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, along with the White House, made an announcement last week that any as-yet-undecided states showing interest in creating their own exchanges or regulating insurance would be granted a waiver or extension of the original Jan. 1, 2013, deadline.
Also just days before the inaugural address, HHS made several other announcements signaling further movement on healthcare reform “risk,” so to speak, especially concerning medical exchanges: Eleven states received a total of $1.5 billion in new Exchange Establishment Grants to further build their own medical exchanges or exchanges already in progress. Sebelius announced in a blog post titled “Countdown to Affordable Health Insurance” a relaunch of the HealthCare.gov website as a placeholder for information on the coming online insurance marketplace. HHS also announced a proposed rule detailing how state-based exchanges could verify coverage.
Publication Date: Thursday, January 24, 2013