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March 22
1875 - Construction begins on San Fernando Railroad Tunnel [story]

Sylvia Mathews Burwell

Sylvia Mathews Burwell

In the first week of the third Open Enrollment, more than 540,000 people selected a health insurance plan through the HealthCare.gov platform, and more than 1.15 million consumers were included on applications submitted to the Marketplace. Even more signed up through their state-based Marketplaces.

It’s a solid start and I’m pleased with the consumer engagement we’ve seen over this last week. Our partners were ready to work, and people were ready to sign up.  We know we have 11 more weeks to go and a lot of hard work still to do.

We saw about 358,000 existing Marketplace customers come back in, shop, and actively select a plan that best meets their needs. We are especially glad to see that our existing customers heard our message about shopping and are eager to renew their Marketplace coverage. We expect renewals to make up a larger share of our customers this year, since we have more than 9 million people with coverage through the Marketplace nationwide.

It’s important to recognize that it is difficult to directly compare this year to last year on a week-by-week basis for a number of reasons. For example, because Open Enrollment started on November 1 this year, compared to November 15 last year, the time from the start of Open Enrollment to the December 15 deadline to sign up for January 1 coverage is much longer this year. We know from past experience that people are deadline driven, so we don’t expect to see deadline effects for a few weeks.

Last week, the President announced a “Healthy Communities Challenge.”  We are targeting 20 communities with large numbers or high percentages of uninsured, geographic diversity, and community leadership.  And there is a big incentive: the victorious community gets bragging rights, a healthier community, and a visit from President Obama to celebrate their success in helping ensure every American has health coverage.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the chance to speak with thousands of assisters, local community leaders, and others who are on the front lines, helping their neighbors sign up. I also visited four cities where we know many of the uninsured live.

I was impressed by the level of commitment I saw on the ground. From small community health centers, to local governments, to issuers and big corporations, we’re seeing people invest in this Open Enrollment. In fact, one major insurer is holding more than 3,000 events in its state; a national pharmacy has pledged to work in more than 12,000 of its stores; and one health system in Houston has already sent out thousands of letters — all to encourage enrollment. This kind of commitment shows that this market is stable and strong, and that businesses want to invest and be a part of it.

I was also reminded once again of why we do this important work. In Jersey City, I met Jesicca Fernandez, who endured years of stomach troubles while she was uninsured. Once she found coverage on the Marketplace, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and she’s now getting the treatment she needs to live a healthier life.

Millions of people like Jesicca have found quality, affordable coverage on HealthCare.gov. All told, the uninsured rate has dropped by 45 percent since 2010.

Now even more Americans have a chance to get covered. Most will be able to get financial assistance—more than 7 in 10 returning Marketplace customers will be able to buy a plan for $75 or less a month in premiums after tax credits. And with new improvements to the site, signing up on HealthCare.gov is easier than ever. Most people will find it to be a simple and smooth experience, like this recent letter-writer to President Obama.

Whether shopping for health insurance for the very first time or re-enrolling in their Marketplace coverage, people are ready to get covered. Consumers are coming to HealthCare.gov, having a smooth experience and finding plans they can afford. That’s the Marketplace at work.


Sylvia Mathews Burwell is secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.


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  1. jimvs says:

    Wow, Sylvia. I can see from your personal message that you are familiar with health care issues in the Santa Clarita Valley.

    But perhaps you don’t know much about the issues facing those families who don’t qualify for the larger government subsidies available under the new national healthcare rules.

    Nothing in the general run-up to this legislation indicated that middle class Americans would be paying the full freight for those lower income Americans that the Affordable Care Act includes. I would be glad to send in a few bucks to help out; but what you are talking about is reducing my healthcare and making me pay more to ensure the healthcare of others.

    How much is Warren Buffet paying for the healthcare of the employees of the companies he “owns” or has a major interest in?

    And I use him as an example of the few 1%ers who might actually pay.

    I’ll stop now before I launch into the Spew-niverse of Socialism vs Carinvore-ism that is our current “discussion” of American Health Care.

    If you were a victim of Hep-C, how much would you be willing to pay out of your pocket for Harvoni or Sovaldi? Given the currently known course of treatment, do you have $60k to $100k in pocket money to pay for the best treatment known to mankind?

    Of course you do.

    The rest of us do not.

    • SCVNews.com says:

      Sylvia Mathews Burwell is President Obama’s Secretary of Health & Human Services. She is not reading your comments.

  2. Doug Dante says:

    From the article “helping ensure every American has health coverage”

    That piece of paper doesn’t prevent a child from being abused in programs funded by HHS.

    Secretary Burwell should also keep Congress informed of the appearance of corruption and negligence in HHS’s administration of grants under Title IV-E (child protective services) and Title IV-D (child support). For example, in Massachusetts:

    ““Policies and procedures fall by the wayside and kids are not being taken care of,” Mr. Arnett said in a phone … Then, with a kid like Jeremiah Oliver, they missed eight visits and didn’t review the case and the kid ends up dead, and the Hardwick boy is in a coma. That is inexcusable.”

    “Yet, DCF’s failure to follow that law since, has in some cases, led to child deaths or severe injuries more than 10 years after the Poutre case that initially inspired the change.”

    From “Adoptive parents of abused child rap DCF” By Paula J. Owen Telegram & Gazette Staff Posted Sep. 12, 2015 at 9:01 PM

    For more information find “Action Opportunity: Investigate Violations of the Civil Rights of Foster Children: Illegal Acts and Gross Negligence at Massachusetts” at reddit dot com slash r slash childrensactivism.

    From another news report:

    “A former employee for the [Texas] Office of Inspector General filed a whistleblower lawsuit Tuesday, saying he was wrongly fired after raising complaints about the way the office investigated Child Protective Services’ role in child abuse deaths. .. Plaintiff was exposing a known political ‘hot potato’ that endangered the lives of countless Texas children and threatened the careers of numerous political appointees,” the filing states.”

    Said one witness: “I know in one county of a director of social services unofficially mandating local mental health agencies to not call the state central register to make reports and required them to call the local staff first and the Local agency would decide on the case. This circumnavigated the safeguards in place by having state central registries. Said director would pull funding and program contracts from local nonprofit agencies if they did not comply with her demands. She was pure evil.”

    Said one former foster child “She made a trade off that if he would baby sit for us then she would ask no questions about what happened. The first time he baby sat me, he raped me four times during the night. I ran away the next day.” Her cries for help were ignored.

    From: “Action Opportunity: Call for an investigation: Fraud, waste, and abuse in child protective services are endangering foster child victims” in reddit’s troubled teens and men’s rights forums.

    Please read the action opportunity and consider joining me in calling for justice for these victims and others.

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