U.S. Sec. of Health: There’s a Surge of Interest in ACA

The deadline for enrollment for the Affordable Care Act is approaching and the anticipated target of 90,000 in New Jersey has not been met. U.S. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that she is optimistic that the target will be met because there has been a surge of interest in the Affordable Care Act.

“I think that enrollment as of a couple of weeks ago was about 75,000 had already signed up and what we’re seeing is a large surge of interest,” said Sebelius. “I think nothing drives people like a deadline and as the message gets out that enrollment really shuts down on March 31 at midnight, people will make a decision.”

Sebelius said that there have been good trends in New Jersey and several other states between the end of January and the end of February and that the enrollment of young adults has increased.

Recently, Gov. Chris Christie has been criticized for not spending the funds to help promote the Affordable Care Act throughout the state, and Sebelius says that it does not help to have mixed messages on the ACA.

“I think it doesn’t help to have members of the United States Congress four years after the president signs the law, vote for the 51st time to repeal the law,” Sebelius said. “There’s still people who aren’t even sure if the law’s in place. So it would be wonderful to have everybody just telling residents what their rights are, what their new opportunities are and helping to promote.”

In regards to the Affordable Care Act and changes with insurance companies, Sebelius said that the ACA is a private insurance in a private market and that insurance companies routinely change their networks. What has changed within insurance companies, according to Sebelius, is that they cannot block someone with a preexisting health condition.

With the deadline for enrollment about a week away, Sebelius says that the Affordable Care Act has crossed the 5 million mark with enrollment and that the Department of Health and Human Services is still working toward the goal of 6 million.

“I think we’ll have lots of people using these last eight days for enrollment,” Sebelius said.