One year after President Obama signed his landmark health care reform package into law, his administration is still working to make sure the public understands the sweeping changes, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday.
Recent polls, including last month's, have shown that more Americans disapprove of the legislation than approve of it. In a conference call with reporters, Sebelius said that the reforms can be hard to understand because they phase in over time - and because its detractors are distorting the truth.
"There still is a lot of intentional misinformation by opponents that continues to be repeated," she said.
Perceptions of the law are changing as the benefits kick in, she said. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack added that as small businesses and farmers file their tax returns, they're realizing one particular benefit of the new law -- a tax credit for small businesses of up to 35 percent for premiums paid on health insurance for employees.
"I think the acceptance of this and the awareness of this is going to grow substantially," Vilsack said.
As Republicans continue their positive stories about the reforms, Democrats all day highlighted the benefits of reform on Twitter with the hashtag #hcworks. For instance, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted, "Insurance companies have to publicly justify premium increases over 10% & post on internet."against the reform package, Democrats went on offense for the new law in conjunction with its anniversary. Along with speaking to reporters and promoting
With Republicans promising to ratchet up their repeal efforts if they win more power in Washington in 2012, Sebelius said that repealing the reforms "would have a serious impact not only on health of our nation, but also on prosperity of our nation."
Thousands of health care providers across the country would lose their jobs, she said, and the repeal of funding for more health care would put a strain on state and city budgets.
Additionally, she said, people would lose access to more health care choices, particularly in rural communities. The Affordable Care Act allocated significant funds to train and support over 16,000 new primary care doctors and nurses, many of whom are offered incentives to practice in rural communities. It also included significant investments in community health centers, which are crucial to under-served communities, and increased payments to rural hospitals.
"If you close a rural hospital, you often shut down a community," Sebelius said.
While Democrats have demonstrated they are willing to continue the public relations battle over health care reform, few have been as blunt about the possible hurdles the law faces in court as Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who acknowledged today that the Supreme Court could declare a key part of the law unconstitutional.
"I think there's a pretty good chance that the Supreme Court will strike down the [individual] mandate," Weiner said, as the Hill reports.