Hey everyone,

I rarely do this but I have to call out a diary that is currently called Sebellius Regrets The ACA. By the way, her last name only has one L in it. It’s Kathleen Sebelius. The author took a quote and edited a certain part out of the interview. Here’s the quote the author references:

[ROVNER:] Now it’s 10 years later, the law is more popular than ever. And yet there are still some big problems in the nation’s health care system, including levels of cost sharing, surprise bills, so that even people who do have insurance are worried about costs when accessing care. Why didn’t the Affordable Care Act fix everything?

[SEBELIUS:] Frankly, it probably would have been better to be a government takeover of health care. We got blamed for it. And yet we really didn’t do that. We ran most of this through the private system. So costs are still blossoming out of control. We’ve talked about how the public option would have been a lever for that, which we don’t have. Surprise billing wasn’t even an issue until investment bankers began buying specialty practices and figuring out, Oh, there’s a new way to make money.

And, I also think, often the Affordable Care Act is blamed for employers shifting massive costs onto their employees in employer-based health care plans, which weren’t really tampered with by the Affordable Care Act. That was always to be left alone. So we own all the bad.

Now here’s the full response from Sebelius from Kaiser Health News:

Rovner: Now it’s 10 years later, the law is more popular than ever. And yet there are still some big problems in the nation’s health care system, including levels of cost sharing, surprise bills, so that even people who do have insurance are worried about costs when accessing care. Why didn’t the Affordable Care Act fix everything?

Sebelius: Frankly, it probably would have been better to be a government takeover of health care. We got blamed for it. And yet we really didn’t do that. We ran most of this through the private system. So costs are still blossoming out of control. We’ve talked about how the public option would have been a lever for that, which we don’t have. Surprise billing wasn’t even an issue until investment bankers began buying specialty practices and figuring out, Oh, there’s a new way to make money.

And, I also think, often the Affordable Care Act is blamed for employers shifting massive costs onto their employees in employer-based health care plans, which weren’t really tampered with by the Affordable Care Act. That was always to be left alone. So we own all the bad.

Having said that, there are millions of people who have coverage today. Insurers cannot discriminate against people with preexisting health conditions. That’s very good news. I think there is much more universal agreement in the country that health care is a right not tied to your job or your geography. So there has been significant progress made.

Emphasis Mine.

Sebelius does express criticisms about what they couldn’t achieve like adding a public option, which is exactly what Joe Biden has been campaigning on:

In a video released alongside the plan, Biden is extremely unsubtle in his repeated invocations of Obama and in his efforts to portray Medicare-for-all, most notably endorsed by rival Bernie Sanders, as a form of Obamacare repeal. He says instead that he wants to “build on” what Obama did by “adding a public option to Obamacare as the best way to lower costs and cover everyone.”

But the form of public option described in a fact sheet about the plan that the Biden campaign released to reporters is considerably more ambitious than the public option that was considered — and ultimately rejected — by congressional Democrats during the ACA debate.

Not coincidentally, while health care provider groups generally liked Obamacare (more people with health insurance meant more customers), the main industry group that was founded to oppose Medicare-for-all also blasted Biden’s proposal Monday morning, saying it would “ultimately lead our nation down the path of a one-size-fits-all health care system run by Washington.”

The main difference between Biden’s plan and Medicare-for-all is a BidenCare transition that would be more gradual and much less costly in terms of explicit tax increases. That likely makes it more politically palatable (though still almost certainly unrealistic in terms of congressional politics) but also much less likely to deliver some of the simplification and cost containment benefits of Medicare-for-all.

There was nothing in Sebelius interview where she said she “regrets the ACA”. It’s very misleading. She admits to the flaws with the ACA and the process to pass it but she makes the point that more people have health insurance and the ACA had helped elevate the point that health care is a right. The argument over Medicare-For-All and the Public Option is a whole other argument but it’s wrong to try to dupe this community into believing something that wasn’t said.