HHS Secretary Uses MLK Day Event to Promote Obamacare

In a speech on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell promoted Obamacare, telling an audience “financial help is available.”

“Here’s what you need to know. We have less than one month left in our open enrollment. It ends on February 15. The other thing is: financial help is available. This can be affordable – 87 percent of those that are in open enrollment this year, those we have re-enrolled and those that have come to us new are receiving financial help,” she said at a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event sponsored by Rev. Al Sharpton’s organization, the National Action Network.

“It’s easier than ever. We’ve focused very hard on the consumer experience and that’s making sure we have a website that’s easy to use. It’s making sure that for 70 percent of the people that come in new, that application went from 76 screens to 16. For those people who are re-enrolling, it’s pre-populated information. So, in other words you don’t have to keep typing it in,” she said.

Burwell encouraged the public to help enroll people in Obamacare.

“In the spirit of Dr. King, we’re asking you to help us again in big ways and small. Host an enrollment event at your church or your community,” she said. “Reach out to your partners. Ask them to help. Use your Twitter and social media to spread the word about the February 15 deadline. Tell her neighbors and tell your friends.”

Burwell said African-Americans have the lowest life expectancy of any other race in the country.

“They are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes and 40 percent more likely to have high blood pressure. African-American women, for example, are 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer even though they are 10 percent less likely to be diagnosed,” she said. “The statistic that impacts all of that: African-Americans are more likely to be uninsured than white Americans.”

She estimated that 7.8 million African-Americans with private insurance now have access to expanded preventative care with no cost sharing under Obamacare.

Later in the day, Sharpton said his organization was going to lay wreaths at the site of the slaying of two New York City police officers and hold a vigil for Eric Garner.

“Why? Because Dr. King was about fighting for justice but he was also about standing against senseless violence, and it’s important on King Day we send a message that, yes, we want to see justice in specific cases but that we are not anti-police, we don’t hate police, most police are good and risk their lives every day,” he said.

“In the spirit of Dr. King, we start here with those that have influence. We go to New York with the mayor and others and then we go to show we denounce the violence against police but we have the right to question specific cases, that’s what Dr. King did and that’s how we’re going to spend this day.”