Q&A with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

At a Sept. 30 Monitor breakfast, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discussed progress in implementing the Affordable Care Act, misinformation about health-care reform, and the dangers of anonymous campaign cash.

Michael Bonfigli/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary, at a Monitor breakfast with reporters Sept. 30.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius leads a department with a $900 billion budget that includes Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the National Institutes of Health. She was previously governor of Kansas. Secretary Sebelius was guest speaker at the Sept. 30 Monitor breakfast in Washington, D.C.

Misinformation about health-care reform:

"It's frustrating at times to talk to folks who still have no idea ... [and] are repeating some of the myths of the past. I remind myself that after 18 months of debate ... [and] a couple of hundred million dollars' worth of TV ads that drove misinformation, I shouldn't be surprised."

Progress in implementing the Affordable Care Act:

"The implementation ... has been going amazingly well for regulations that are basically being written by three agencies ... Labor, HHS, and Treasury.... Step 1 was really trying to stabilize and fix the system, so people who have insurance actually got benefits when they needed them."

Dealing with Republican plans to defund what they call Obamacare:

"First, we can win the elections.... I've been a governor at tight budget times.... You do what you can with what you have. So we reassess everything, and we figure out ways that we can move forward."

Charges that she has an animus toward health insurance companies:

"This is a health-care model built around the private market, anticipating that, frankly, it may be the salvation of the private market."

Dangers of anonymous campaign cash:

"The untold story of 2010 is not the 'tea party' or ... the health-care bill.... It is the amount of money that is flowing in districts around the country and particularly the amount of anonymous money.... I think that is pretty dangerous."

A Kansas man who asked on Twitter when she is running for president:

"No time soon. Just tell him."

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