Champions of Change: Affordable Care Act

Uploaded by whitehouse on 21.03.2012

Karen Richardson: Good afternoon.
Welcome to the White House and welcome to the White House
Affordable Care Act Champions of Change program.
My name is Karen Richardson, and I am an associate director for
health care outreach in the White House Office
of Public Engagement.
Today we are honoring ten lovely individuals who are making a
difference in their communities by helping others understand the
impact and benefits available to them under the health reform
law, the Affordable Care Act.
We have a great program lined up for you today where you will
hear from all ten champions about the work they are doing in
their communities, and from administration's speakers who
are working on implementing the law and educating communities
about the benefits of the law.
So without further delay, I introduce to you our first
speaker who is Jon Carson, the Director of the Office
of Public Engagement.
Thank you.
Jon Carson: Thank you, Karen, and good afternoon, everyone.
Audience: Good afternoon.
Jon Carson: Welcome to the White House.
Welcome to everyone who is following us along online today,
and a big -- let's give a big round of congratulations,
first of many, to our champions.
Speaker: Congratulations!
Jon Carson: I just wanted to kick things off by briefly
telling you a little bit about the Champions of Change program,
and then I have an ask for our champions,
for our wonderful audience today,
and for everyone who is following along online.
We created the Champions of Change program here in the
White House for two reasons.
First, this President and this administration knows that we
here in Washington do not have a monopoly on good ideas.
There are amazing individuals all around the country who are
making change happen.
And while we here in Washington sometimes get bogged down in
debates, get bogged down in fights,
we here never forget for one moment that all across this
country there are millions of Americans taking charge,
making a difference in their community,
just like the champions that we have here on stage today.
So we like to take this spotlight power that we have
and put a spotlight on these amazing stories.
The ask that I have for all of you,
whether you are following online,
whether you are here today or especially for our champions,
is to tell your story, to tell the story of the organization
that you're working with.
I know so many here in the audience are working to make
sure your community, your networks,
individuals across your state know about and are benefiting
from the Affordable Care Act.
Tell the story of your involvement,
if you're online and you're following,
tell the story of what you're doing.
But especially to our champions, we've often noticed sometimes
the community leaders like yourself are actually the most
hesitant to tell your story and talk about the change you've
been able to make.
But I ask you to do it for two reasons.
First, especially on an issue like this,
making sure people know about and are benefiting from the
Affordable Care Act, the information you have to share
quite literally is saving lives.
But I also you to tell your story of involvement,
because we need more Americans just involved in civic
participation across the board.
And when they hear your story as a champion,
when they hear your story of the organizations you're
working with, they'll start to ask, well,
maybe I could do that as well.
And you will inspire others.
We've seen this with our other Champions of Change programs,
you'll inspire others to action.
So that's my ask of each and every one of you today,
write about it, tweet about it, if you want to tweet me,
I'm @JonCarson44, if -- you know,
pull three people aside in the grocery store tomorrow
when you see them.
And I'm very excited to introduce our first speaker
here today, because one thing I want you to know,
as there are tens of thousands of individuals,
hundreds of organizations across this country working on the
implementation and the promotion and the just explanation of the
Affordable Care Act, I want you to know that this President and
his entire administration are committed to defending this law
and making sure that it is implemented in the absolute
best possible way.
And everyone involved in that, we have here today the leader
of that effort, the woman who is taking decades of experience in
this field and her knowledge as a governor and a cabinet
secretary leading the team that is going to make the Affordable
Care Act implemented as one of the best laws we've ever seen.
I'd like to introduce the Secretary of HHS,
Kathleen Sebelius.
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: Thank you.
Well, I should be providing the applause for all of you,
and certainly for our ten health champions.
I'm delighted to have a chance to be with all of you today,
and I want to recognize a couple of people who are
in the audience.
But first to thank Jon Carson for his leadership and his
effective strategies in the Office of Public Engagement.
So thank you, Jon.
Let's give him a round of applause.
A couple of our great health leaders and
outreach leaders are here.
Dr. Mary Wakefield, who you'll hear from in a little bit,
on the first panel is with us today.
Ann Widger who is head of our public outreach office is here.
And I know somebody who worked on this bill tirelessly as we
were trying to navigate the thorny halls of Congress,
Becky Patchin is also with us, Becky at that point was the
President of the AMA and was a great champion, so thank you.
I want to really start by thanking all of you for what
you do every day to improve health in all
of your communities.
I think all of you share the passion that this administration
shares, which is that health is the foundation of opportunity
across America, it's the prerequisite to have people be
able to pursue their own dreams.
And for years, you and other community leaders in cities and
towns across the country have done absolutely heroic work to
help plug the holes in what was and continues to be in too many
places a very broken system.
But helping figure out ways and strategies to help Americans get
the care they really need.
And you're here today because you recognize that we couldn't
give every American the health security they deserve without
closing those gaps for good and without creating
a whole new system.
And that's why you rolled up your sleeves and helped us
pass the Affordable Care Act.
Now, I know you already see how this law is making a difference
in your own communities.
And I get to see it every day as I travel around the country.
I've been in living rooms and been recently with a mom who
had a two-year-old diagnosed with leukemia,
and heard her talk about the difference it makes to not only
know that the law won't ay law her daughter any longer to be
locked out of the health insurance market,
but know that her daughter as she grows up will have
the opportunity to have affordable care in the future.
I've had strangers come up to me in airports and say,
my son was born with a preexisting health condition,
and now I have some peace of mind,
I know that he will eventually be able to be covered,
and I never was certain about that before.
Just two days ago, I was in St. Louis where
I met Fritzie Lainoff (phonetic).
Now, Fritzie is a senior who has some serious health challenges.
She's a cancer survivor and has some other issues.
Her husband also has health challenges.
And she has so far saved about $2,500 on her prescription drugs
thanks to the beginning of the closing of the donut hole.
Now, to Fritzie, that's real serious money in her pocket.
She said we can go to a movie again,
we can think about going out and meeting our friends for dinner,
we were really in a desperate shape and didn't know how we
were going to handle paying for our medications going forward.
And she's just one of 5 million seniors who have already saved
an average of $635 each, real money in their pockets this
year thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
So I get to hear from lots of people who represent the
millions of Americans already benefiting from the law.
But what I know is it couldn't have happened without you and
it couldn't have happened without you,
the health champions here on the stage with me today.
I know how frustrating it is, because, again,
it happens to me every day, when you meet people who either are
full of misinformation or who have no idea that there was even
a bill passed and don't have any idea how it can help them.
Now, I have to tell you the reality is that there are many
good reasons for it.
One of the things that I don't think any of us can forget about
is that opponents of the law spent a lot of time in the year
and a half of debate before the law was passed and a lot of time
since then, two years, spreading information
that just isn't accurate.
And using a lot of money to spread that information.
So there has been a lot of factual errors,
a lot of conversation that just isn't true.
And part of it is why a lot of people continue to be confused
by the debate.
But what we know is that the most effective strategy,
the most important work that can be done to counter that
misinformation that's been incredibly important and
effective is to hear from real people who have seen benefits,
or to hear from trusted community leaders or friends
and neighbors.
Frankly when I talk to folks, they see me as a government
official and they figure I'm as much a spin as maybe somebody
else who is spinning the law the other way.
But when they hear from trusted friends and neighbors,
their own health care providers, their community leaders,
their outreach, that really makes a difference.
And certainly when they hear from individuals who tell a
story about what's happened to them.
Very powerful, very meaningful, but again,
we can't do that without your help.
So this year is the second anniversary of the law being
signed, and next week the Supreme Court begins their
deliberations on the law.
So the coming weeks and months may be some of the most
important that we've had in this entire debate since the bill was
signed on March 23rd, 2010.
It's an especially critical time to do outreach,
to first of all convince people at that there is law in place.
I have a number of people who say to me, well,
since the law was found unconstitutional,
I guess it's all over, and I have to remind them, no,
a court challenge does not mean that the law is
unconstitutional, there will be a discussion.
And, in fact, more courts have found it constitutional than not
heading to the Supreme Court.
But I don't think any of us should assume that that
translates very easily into the public.
A lot of people say, well, if the House of Representatives
voted to repeal the bill, it must be repealed.
And again, a little civics lesson, no,
it has to go through the Senate and then would have to be signed
by the President.
So the law is very much in place,
and it's being implemented across the country.
Make sure that people have the information they need to take
care of themselves and their families.
And I know that unfortunately still there are women who have
felt a lump in their breast who's putting off a mammogram
because they're not sure if they have the copay or
can afford the deductible.
There's a senior who's still going without prescriptions
thinking they're going to have to skip their meds because they
don't know that automatically the donut hole deduction will
be applied to their prescription drugs.
There are parents with kids with a heart defect who don't know
that calling their insurance company can make a simple
solution, because now it is illegal for those companies to
lock their sons and daughters out of an insurance plan.
So first I want to tell you that the ten people on the stage
today are chosen because they have been true health champions.
And they were not the only ten people, by the way,
who came our way.
A know a number of you have helped nominate these health
champions, but there were hundreds of people nominated.
They were chosen because they have gone above and beyond,
have done extraordinary work in filling some of the gaps that
people find every day, and they are doing this
work across the country.
So I want to, first of all, congratulate you for being
health champions, to thank you for what you have been doing,
but to tell you roll up your sleeves,
because we have some very important work left to do.
I want to thank you for service to your communities and I want
to tell you as you're continuing our effort on the ground,
we are with you every step of the way.
And you are making a huge difference.
I get a lot of thank you's for the work you're doing,
and I'm grateful for that.
And for the almost 300 million Americans who aren't in the room
with us today, I want to say thank you on their behalf,
because they are the true beneficiaries.
I want to now turn the podium over to Mary Wakefield.
Mary is going to be moderating the first panel.
Aside from being the head of one of our key agencies,
the health resources and services administration which
runs the health care workforce operation,
runs the Ryan White program, is in charge of community health
centers, aside from a few other things,
Mary is also our highest ranking nurse in the administration,
and as you know --
Yes, that is huge round of applause.
I must say in all due deference to the doctors in the room,
we were thrilled to have doctors with us with the passage of the
Affordable Care Act,
but nurses have been after this for 70 years and knew
that health reform was a high agenda item.
Mary has a huge voice of rural health care,
hails from North Dakota.
And a little factoid is that Mary and I first met each other
in the mid '90's when we served on a presidential commission,
both appointed by President Bill Clinton,
to look at patient protection and improve quality in health
care, and many of the issues that we discussed on that
commission are now part of the Affordable Care Act.
So it's been a real delight for me to
work again with Mary Wakefield.
And I want to turn the podium over to her.
Mary Wakefield.
I was going to say, do you have to stand the whole time?
I thought maybe you were the bad guys.
Dr. Mary Wakefield: Well, special thanks to Madam Secretary for her remarks.
And good afternoon to each of you who are joining us today.
I'm really pleased to be able to facilitate part of today's
discussion with some of the extraordinary Champions of
Change that are with us.
Their work, your work and the other panelists' work is I think
a reflection of what the Affordable Care Act is really
all about, and that is it's about improving access to
affordable health care for all Americans.
And you've helped us to message that to people
across the country.
We are, as the Secretary indicated,
now two years this week into the Affordable Care Act,
and through a lot of hard work from local to national levels
and many points in between, the Affordable Care Act,
the law itself, is taking deep and firm root.
It is in the process of changing America's conversation about
health and health care.
And the citizen champions on the first panel,
and I'm sure on the second panel, too,
but on the first panel today are certainly some of our premiere
agents of some of this change.
They have been engaging conversation and driving the
efforts locally, at state levels and regionally to help people
better understand the attributes of this extremely important law.
Their stories reflect that substantial work to make a
real commitment in their communities across the country,
and their leadership on behalf of the health of all Americans
is laudable.
And while the panelists each have much,
much longer bios and resumes than I would be able to take
the time to share with you, to maximize our opportunity,
I'm just going to say a word about each one of them.
And with apologies to each of you for having to do that,
but it's most important for folks to have a chance
to hear from you.
So let me just introduce each of them to you.
First Dr. John Casey.
He is currently the Chief Resident of Emergency Medicine
at Doctors Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
And he participates on a number of local and regional and
national committees, he's an expert resource to his patients,
and he is also an expert to his peers on policy matters,
including health care reform and access to quality care.
Sara Finger is the founder and executive director of
the Wisconsin Alliance of Women's Health.
The Alliance has been recognized as Wisconsin's health care
reform leader for women.
Having participated in an Affordable Care Act Webinar
just yesterday with Sara, I can personally attest to her passion
and her dynamism as it pertains to improving the
health of the public.
Katherlyn Geter has been the State Health Insurance
Assistance Program Regional Coordinator in Chattanooga,
Tennessee, for the past ten years,
and she is employed by the Southeast Tennessee Development
District Area Agency on Aging and Disability.
Throughout her career, Ms. Geter has worked with faith-based
organizations to provide education about health benefits
and preventive services.
Josephine Underwood with Better Health Care in Champagne,
Illinois, has collaborated with organizations throughout her
state, sharing information about the Affordable Care Act with
them and especially information about the benefits of that law
with -- to consumers.
Her work has included working alongside of the NAACP,
the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce,
and the Progressive Action for the Common Good - Quad Cities
Health Care Task Force.
Carmen Morales-Board is a surgery department family nurse
practitioner and a certified diabetes educator at Kern
Medical Center in Bakersfield, California.
She's an active member in SCIU's nurse alliance and she serves on
its national leadership council.
Well, with that, we'll begin the conversation
with this first panel.
And I'm going to join you right there, if you don't mind,
and we'll just share a mic.
And John, fair warning, we'll start with you.
Dr. John Casey: Okay.
Dr. Mary Wakefield: And if we have time, I'm not sure we will,
but if we have time, if there's a thought, a comment,
a question that anyone in the audience would like to share,
if we've got time, we'll certainly try to do that.
So, Dr. Casey, can you tell us a little bit about your background
as Chief Resident of Emergency Medicine and how that experience
has strengthened your commitment,
what you've seen there in that role that has really
strengthened your commitment to educate others about the
importance of the Affordable Care Act,
both your colleagues and I think also consumers,
so tell us a little bit about that, if you would.
Dr. John Casey: Sure. Happy to.
So first I'm honored to have been chosen,
I think all of us were, as we were talking about it earlier.
So many education coming in, I'm an osteopathic emergency
physician, and I do a lot of work with the American
Osteopathic Association.
And part of the joy of being an osteopathic physician is you're
supposed to look at the whole patient,
the whole health care system, you want to look at everything.
And as an emergency room doctor, I take all-comers,
regardless of insurance status, but I know that when a patient
is in my emergency department, a lot of times one of their big
concerns is how am I going to be able to afford this and am I
going to be able to get the follow-up care that I need.
So I've always been interested in policy,
and certainly the ACA is right up there with, you know,
guaranteeing access and guaranteeing that people can
afford their health care.
You asked me about as far as emergency medicine goes
what I see.
So we're kind of the bottom feeders at the hospital,
and I say that in a nice way, because we meander everywhere,
and in my training, I go to every nook and cranny
of the hospital.
So I get to hear physicians from every walk talk about their
interpretation of the ACA, and what I noticed was -- I like to
refer to it as kind of ducks on bathing on a beach,
a lot of them have passion, and they're legs are just moving
really, really fast, because they really seem to care.
But I tell them nothing is going to change until they put their
feet in the water.
And they don't put their feet in the water a lot,
they don't like to engage, they're afraid that if they
talk to the legislators, if they talk to their patients,
if they talk about the Affordable Care Act that they
don't feel like they understand it enough and that they can
speak competent about it.
So one of my goals is to make people feel comfortable talking
about that, talking about it with each other,
things that are great, things that could be improved,
things that have made a difference,
and then being able to talk to their patients about it,
which is a huge part of the deal.
Dr. Mary Wakefield: Yeah, compelling and front line experience it sounds like.
Thank you for sharing that, and thank you for everything
that you do.
Dr. John Casey: Absolutely. Thank you.
Dr. Mary Wakefield: So, because we're a little bit tight with time,
I'm going to go to Sara Finger sitting right next to me.
As I mentioned, she's founder and executive director of the
Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health.
And, Sara, you, too, in a different way have seen
firsthand, I think, how the implementation of this law
is positively affecting women in the State of Wisconsin.
So I'd appreciate it, if you could,
to give us one example or two examples of women that you've
interacted with and how some provision or provisions of
the law might be impacting their lives.
Sara Finger: Again, thank you.
This is an incredible honor, so thank you for having us.
And it's nice to meet you after having a nice call
with you yesterday.
We at the Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health have recognized
that health care reform is one of the greatest women's health
issues there is.
Women have had to pay more out of pocket for health care,
have had to been dependent on spouses,
have been discriminated against because of our current health
care system, and so for the last few years working with raising
women's voices in the National Women's Law Center,
we've been working to bring women's voices
and needs to the table.
And so my saying is, if you're not in the kitchen,
you're on the menu.
And so we -- you know, again, it's one of those things that
people are intimidated by and maybe a little apathetic about
the policy opportunities there are.
But again, if we're not in the kitchen, we're on the menu,
and so we're now seeing the opportunity to raise awareness
of and appreciation for how Wisconsin women are winning
with the Affordable Care Act, and we're now seeing, you know,
women take advantage of preventive health care
services that have otherwise not been available or
affordable for them.
You know, the idea of a lot of mothers, you know,
we heard the examples, a lot of mothers who have children with
preexisting conditions to not have to worry about that,
to not have to worry about lifetime caps.
For young people, over 17,000 young people already in
Wisconsin are having access to health care because they can
stay on their parents' insurance until the age of 26.
I have a friend on her fourth round of cancer,
and it's beautiful to know that moving forward she will not be
discriminated against because of her challenges with cancer and
will not hit those lifetime limits.
So this is a huge win for us.
And we continue to work to, again,
raise awareness of an appreciation for what this
offers to Wisconsin women and families.
Dr. Mary Wakefield: Awesome, really compelling examples.
Thank you for sharing that.
Sara Finger: Thank you.
Dr. Mary Wakefield: So I'm going to turn over here and ask you,
Katherlyn, if you can tell us about what prompted you to
commit to work to reduce health disparities.
Because I think that's been a big part of what you've been
focused on in the context of the Affordable Care Act.
So tell us a little bit about that work and maybe what drew
your attention to eliminating health disparities.
Katherlyn Geter: Certainly. Again, thank you so much for this honor.
As the State Health Insurance Assistance Program,
primarily the work that that program and that I do at that
program is helping Medicare beneficiaries understand their
Medicare benefits.
And in the area that I live in and work in which is Chattanooga
Tennessee, one of the counties which is Hamilton County there
is a ZIP code that is affected with the highest terms of
chronic conditions; HIV/AIDS, heart disease, cancer.
So when you look at a particular zip code like that in the area
you live in, you become passionate, so to speak,
to want to make a difference.
And so I thought it was time to sort of get in the trenches and
do something about it.
There are a lot of organizations that are doing similar things as
we're here being honored for.
But there are a lot of vulnerable clients or
individuals that are isolated from those services.
So in terms of health disparities,
we see a lot of individuals that are not necessarily getting
access to the benefits that they need.
So it was trying to be innovative in the ways that
we can go out and reach those individuals to educate them.
So it was coming up with ways to reach them and educate them
about the Affordable Care Act.
Dr. Wakefield: It sounds a little bit like you were saying enough is enough.
Katherlyn Geter: Yes.
Dr. Wakefield: Enough is enough.
Katherlyn Geter: Yes.
Dr. Wakefield: Time for a change.
Josephine, let me ask you the next question.
So you've done a fair amount of work, needless to say,
in fighting for health equity for populations over the past
few decades.
Could you tell us a little bit about how your experience as a
community activist in particular and working with several
non-profit and advocacy organizations has really driven
you to commit to improving and being an advocate for the health
of individuals and using the Affordable Care Act as a vehicle
to talk about both the need for improvement and this particular
law being able to drive toward those improvements for the
populations that you care deeply about.
Josephine Underwood: Absolutely. And I echo the sentiments of everyone up here.
This is an amazing honor to think that any group can come
together and recognize ten people out of hundreds and
hundreds and hundreds of people that are doing such amazing work
at the ground level of educating various populations is just mind
blowing and amazing to me.
I come from a social service background where we're doing
direct services, whether it was mental health, physical health,
behavioral health, families in crisis, and things like that.
And it became an amazing wall to see families hit,
not being able to access services that they needed
because of the type of insurance they had or because of lack of
access or children not being able to go to school because
they couldn't afford mental health prescriptions and
physical health prescriptions and things like that.
It just became an aggravating situation for me to continue
to observe and to continue to serve in that capacity.
And so I started to look for avenues to really approach
this challenge from a systematic point of view.
That really allowed me to work with a lot
of different organizations.
What I find is that key in this concept is communicating with
various communities.
And we have organizations that have become experts in this that
use language that most people in an average room
don't understand.
And so my passion has really become to make this an issue
and a factor that's so understandable for people
and relatable to people in their situations.
We see all the time families that can't afford prescriptions
who mom is staying home and is missing days at work because
she's sick and how that impacts every aspect of
life in different spheres.
And really, one of the key ways and one of the key avenues
that's been afforded to me by working with different
organizations is the ability to loop the issue of healthcare
into various other issues.
The issue of healthcare is an education issue.
It's a health equity issue.
It's an economics issue.
And there's opportunities, by thinking outside of just
healthcare organizations, that will allow us to have these
conversations and scopes of looping them in with
other issues.
With the Supreme Court issues coming up, it will become,
again, a national issue.
But there are those influxes where this isn't the sexiest
issue to talk about.
And so finding those avenues where people are passionate
about education and looping and why health equity is important.
And there's a key way to collaborate with organizations
that do work beyond just the health issue as a focus.
Dr. Wakefield: Thank you. Helpful observation.
And interesting because we've already heard about how an
individual can work with other individuals and peers and
patients, how an individual can lead an organization,
how an individual can work in government and advance
this agenda.
And then also how an individual can work with multiple other
organizations aligning this issue with other issues that
are important to those organizations.
So thank you.
Very interesting highlights and contrasts.
So Carmen, I think we'll go to you and talk a bit about
how your work, if you would, with Kern Medical Center,
has helped you to reach individuals and to help educate
them about the characteristics of the Affordable Care Act,
if you would share a little bit about that with us please.
Carmen Morales-Board: Sure. And I thank you for this honor.
And I am representing a whole team of nurses that have gone
out to do this work.
I'm just the one that got to come today.
(laughter and applause)
They're, right now, in the hospital doing the work that
I'm going to describe to you.
What we found through the nurse alliance was that there was a
way for us to start those conversations as nurses to
our patients and to the rest of the community.
And because Kern Medical Center is in Central Valley,
we have a very high population of unemployment
and low-wage jobs.
And we have a lot of chronic diseases,
even things that you probably don't hear about here in this
part of the country, such as Valley Fever.
We also have one of the highest rates of diabetes and obesity.
So we're seeing a lot of people come into the emergency room for
surgeries that they really could have avoided.
And I'm a surgery pre-op nurse practitioner.
So I'm actually pre-oping the patient for, you know,
usually an extremity or something being -- many times,
due to the diabetes that they haven't been able to control
because they haven't been able to get their medicine.
So we start the conversation with who needs information now.
And we wear these buttons.
And so we're reaching the patient at the time that they're
in the hospital when they need that information and it's going
to make that impact right then and there, there is the need.
So if you're a young adult and you're in because, you know,
you have chest pain and you didn't know that you could be on
your parent's insurance because you're 24 years old and you're
not in college and you don't have a job,
we let you know that you can get on your parent's insurance and
have access to care and don't need to be coming to the
emergency room for chest pain.
You will be able to see a primary doctor and get the
medication you need.
With senior citizens, the same thing.
They don't often realize that the medications they are
getting, that that donut hole is closing and they can actually
save money by switching to a different medication.
We help them do that.
And we start that conversation.
So we've had classes at the hospital,
and we've actually been to public health department and
actually educated our public health nurses who are going to
be playing a huge role as the Affordable Care Act becomes a
little more -- benefits become part of the law.
The public health part of it is going to be extremely important.
And so we feel like those nurses really needed to be informed.
And now we have that joint conversation.
And it's making a difference because I have people tell me,
I thought that that law was repealed.
And we actually give them a little card that
has all the information.
It's real.
And they say thank you, and they get insurance,
and hopefully they won't be coming back to have an
unnecessary surgery.
So it's saving money.
Dr. Wakefield: That's a terrific strategy.
And thank you for sharing that.
Traditionally, of course, the role would be for you and for
your colleagues to teach patients about their health.
But in this case, you're also teaching them not only about
their but also about the health benefits of the Affordable Care
Act that they can take advantage of and that then will hopefully
mitigate other problems associated with the chronic
illnesses that you were talking about just a minute ago.
So thank you for that.
Is there anything else that any one of the panelists would like
to add in?
I saw the next moderator come in the door,
and I don't want to hold us up from letting him begin
the second panel.
Is there anything else that someone would have thought of
that you wanted to add that you might have thought -- or
forgotten rather, to say?
Katherlyn Geter: I did want to add one thing.
One of the things that I see is that non-profits are very afraid
to talk about this as an issue related to voting and as an
issue related to educated voters.
And I understand that non-profits walk the fine
line of not being able to endorse any candidates.
However, in our educational outreach,
what we can do is talk about where candidates fall regarding
these key issues.
And if this is an issue that is important to people,
we can educate them about where people,
where running candidates, fall regarding this issue.
And make it pertinent to becoming a registered,
educated, and voting voter.
And I think that that will really help progress
implementation because then you have people voting based
on issues that are important to them that they are now educated
about about who the people in their community is and where
they stand regarding this issue.
That's very, very key that we make that connection.
Dr. Wakefield: Thanks, Josephine.
Is there anything else that anyone would care to add?
Well, with that then, many, many thanks to each of you,
both for being here with us today,
for taking the time to share your observations
and your stories.
And mostly, deepest thanks to the work that each of you are
doing in the communities that you hail from.
Please join me in thanking them for being here today.
With that it's my pleasure -- you can go ahead and I'll be
right behind you.
But just to keep things moving, with that,
it's my pleasure to turn over the reins of moderator
to really a distinguished colleague,
the Deputy White House Chief of Staff for Planning,
Mark Childress.
I saw him walk in a minute ago.
There he is over there. Okay.
Let me just say a word about Mark.
Mark is someone who has really spent his career working to
fashion policies to make high-quality healthcare
available to everyone who needs it.
He's served in leadership positions in both the public
sector and the private sector.
And he's worked at senior levels of government in the executive
branch as well as in the U.S. Congress.
His policy work has included working, for example,
as former advisor to Senator Tom Daschle, majority leader.
And Mark has also worked as senior counsel in the
Clinton administration.
He was general counsel on the Senate Health Education Labor
and Pensions Committee.
And I would invite you to please join me in welcoming
Mark Childress to the stage.
Mark Childress: I like how we have an operation where you have
to bring your own name tag.
So no one should get to full of themself when they have to bring
their own name tag with them.
We didn't introduce you all before, right?
Okay, good.
I want to place the witness a little bit.
So this is good because now you all brought your
own name tags too.
So JoAnne Fischer is a community activist.
She is a nationally recognized leader,
advocating for women and children and families.
You're the executive director of the Maternity Care Coalition.
And I want to get this right.
Your signature program, is it MOMobile?
Okay, good.
It's MOM obile.
JoAnne Fischer: MOMobile.
Mark Childress: MOMobile. Okay, good.
And this has provided outreach and family support services to
over 80,000 pregnant women and parents of infants -- that's
extraordinary -- at nine sites in Pennsylvania,
including one at a women's correctional facility, right?
Good. Jan, right?
You're from Carson City, Nevada.
Jan Gilbert: Yes, excellent.
Mark Childress: I got that right.
You're the cofounder of the Progressive Leadership Alliance
of Nevada.
You were a former schoolteacher, right?
Jan Gilbert: Yes.
Mark Childress: You've been working on economic justice and environmental issues
for nearly 30 years.
So you started when you were five?
Jan Gilbert: Thank you. Good job.
Mark Childress: And you began working for the Nevada League of Women Voters.
And you've been President of the Carson City Chapter and a
state board member.
That's a great perspective.
Alice -- this is great.
They actually gave me the piece of paper and it's going down the
-- we are a very impressive operation.
Alice, you're the volunteer cochair of the Affordable
Care Public Education Committee for Kansas City.
And you've coordinated over 35 presentations on the Affordable
Care Act.
Alice Kitchen: It's actually 72 now.
Mark Childress: Okay. Someone is going to be fired!
Alice Kitchen: We just increased them.
Mark Childress: So anyway, this is great because you definitely are
in the trenches on working on the ACA.
Adam, you're from my home state -- I don't know.
Are you from North Carolina?
Adam Searing: I am, Chapel Hill.
Mark Childress: Adam is the director of the Health Access
Coalition for the North Carolina Justice Center.
That is one of North Carolina's leading voices for progressive
healthcare reform.
And it particularly focuses on the needs of the uninsured and
the underinsured.
And during your tenure, you've fought particularly to keep
health plans at non-profit and community focused institutions.
And you've also worked on expansion
of state Medicaid, right?
And then Reverend Walling is from Cleveland, Ohio.
Reverend Walling is the executive director of the
Faithful Reform in healthcare which is the largest interfaith
coalition of national, state, and local organizations and
individuals working for a healthcare future that embraces
an inclusive, accessible, affordable and accountable
system of healthcare in the U.S.
That is a heck of a thing to bite off.
So well done.
All right.
Let's just start actually with JoAnne.
And I know that this is a great sort of opportunity.
And I want to -- in the context of your, you know,
really extraordinary program on maternal and child health,
I wonder if you could talk a little bit about how the
Affordable Care Act has already been beneficial to your work and
actually how, as it phases in, we can see more benefits.
JoAnne Fischer: Great. Thank you.
And thank you again for this honor and for including the
particular issues of women and children around
the Affordable Care Act.
We learned early on that we couldn't serve families
without doing advocacy.
And we couldn't do advocacy and policy work without hearing the
voices of families.
And childbirth is such an extraordinary event
in people's lives.
The fact that pregnancy has been,
up until the Affordable Care Act,
a preexisting condition has really made it so that families
who didn't have insurance or found themselves without
insurance had to start that journey into parenthood with
extraordinary stress.
So we want to say thank you on this anniversary for the
Affordable Care Act that that is no longer the case,
that pregnancy is a pre-existing condition.
And we are very eager --
Yes. And we are very eager for 2014 because at that time,
states like mine, Pennsylvania, does not require maternity care
to be part of health insurance packages.
So we've had to introduce legislation so that,
until we get to 2014, that we could insure
motherhood in Pennsylvania.
Another aspect of the Affordable Care Act that people know not as
much about really are the critical workplace protections
for breastfeeding mothers.
And we have helped publicize those benefits where employers
are required to give breaks for women to be able to breastfeed.
According to the Office of Women's Health,
the major deterrent to women breastfeeding is going back to
work quickly.
So this is so critical.
And in our community, we've helped work classes,
by consulting with them, become breastfeeding friendly.
And we are now giving breastfeeding friendly business
awards to those companies that are exemplary to really help the
community understand how important this is as a basis
of good health for generations to come.
Mark Childress: Great. That's fantastic.
Jan, just the same sort of question.
You've had a lot of experience.
What have been the areas that you've focused on as you've sort
of worked on your education about the ACA with folks?
I guess another way to put it is,
where do you think folks have been most receptive to the
message about the ACAs?
Jan Gilbert: Well, thank you very much.
It's an honor to be here with all of these participants.
I work in a coalition.
PLAN is a broad based coalition of 30 member groups.
So I'm always bringing people along.
And I try to stay in the background and let them come
forward to talk about their work.
So we're mainly educating our members and their organizations.
I often do presentations about advocacy to groups because of
the human service world.
They tend to just want to provide the service and they
don't tend to want to be advocates.
And we have to work very hard to tell them they are the experts.
We need them on the front line talking about what they're
seeing in the community.
I've been the lobbyist for PLAN for the 18 years that
we've been operating.
So I'm always bringing people to be in the front to talk about
those issues.
We see small businesses that have really struggled
with healthcare.
This is going to be tremendous for them.
I'm very proud to say Nevada has moved forward with the silver
state healthcare exchange.
It passed this last legislature.
It's a miracle.
Nevada tends to be last on a lot of indicators of wellbeing.
But we are moving forward with the health exchange and ignoring
the Supreme Court case, hoping to be on the front
line to be able to provide healthcare for people when
it is moving forward.
So with that -- and I think the preexisting conditions are
affecting a lot of people, people that are part of our
group that can't access healthcare.
One woman has gone back to school just part-time so she
can access healthcare.
You know, there's a small businessman whose child was born
with a condition that did not allow him to cover his child.
And now he's going to be able to provide care for his child.
So we're seeing it on a one-on-one.
We've brought business people to Washington, D.C.
And I have to say, two organizations that have really
made a difference in PLAN's work is Families U.S.A.
and Health Care for America Now, HCAN.
They have educated us.
They moved us into the front line.
And, you know, I would be remiss without saying it was my staff
that should be getting this award, all of them,
because they're all doing things on a daily basis to get the word
out into the community.
So thank you very much.
Mark Childress: That was great. Thank you.
So that's a good segue, Alice, with your 72 sessions.
Alice Kitchen: And 1200 people reached in two states,
and four counties in Missouri and Kansas.
Mark Childress: Wow. You really are a great case study.
When you're talking about the ACA, you know,
what are the things that folks sort of naturally understand and
kind of gravitate to really easily?
And then what are the things that you've found
that's really difficult?
The other panel talked a little bit about this too.
Some of these things are really hard to kind of negotiate.
Give us a sense of, you know, where you feel you've made the
most progress and where you feel we have the most really to do.
Alice Kitchen: Well, we're a small core group of retired people.
And we are two social workers, a nurse, a teacher,
and researcher.
And once we saw and knew about the final law in place and we
heard about it, we decided to go out and reach as many people so
that they would know what's in the law.
The most front line item we cover is preventive services
because that implements -- that comes into effect and
has been in effect.
So we started there.
And with the young adults in our state of Missouri, 38,000
have received healthcare, have been eligible and signed
on to healthcare and, at the federal level, many more.
So we start with prevention and the parts of the law that have
already been implemented.
And we tell people to use the website,
Then to our national organizations,
professional groups, networks, NESW,
the Society of Social Work Leadership in Health care and
our church groups and our neighborhood groups and all
of those natural groups.
We're on the bottom.
We're bottoms up.
And we go to grocery stores, and we just can't help it.
But we talk to people about what's out there.
It's just natural, because if you've spent 30 years working to
make sure that the uninsured get insured and you have 50 million
out there that don't have health insurance,
you can't help but want to make sure they have that coverage and
help them get on it, enroll, know the detail,
know how to navigate their plan, ask questions.
Say you're in for a wellness screening.
Make sure the staff knows what it's about because often the
staff in those offices don't know.
Mark Childress: You know --
Yes. That's good.
And one of the things that I think is so important is,
you know, for those of us who live this and it's such an
important part of what we do every day,
we sort of take for granted that we have in our head exactly how
the ACA is unfolding.
To us, we know that the 2 and a half million kids who are
benefiting from -- we know there's, you know,
$54 million in private insurance who get preventive healthcare.
We know all this stuff.
But the truth is, a lot of people in the world,
because the way this gets reported,
it's kind of this great abstraction that's being
fought out about what's going to happen.
And I think it really is incumbent upon those of us
who really know and understand because there's lots of people
out there who are benefiting from the ACA that don't think
they're benefiting from the ACA.
So, you know, if folks like us aren't going to be making that
case, nobody's gonna.
So I just think, you know, the fact that we know it so well can
sometimes make us not -- we should feel no problem about
saying those stats every time we sit down with folks to talk
about this bill because it really is an enormous, you know,
asset that it passed.
Adam, I wanted to -- in addition to the work that you do at this
policy level, you are somebody who teaches the Public Health
Policy course at UNC, right?
You're Chapel Hill, right?
Adam Searing: That's in addition to everything else.
Mark Childress: Yes. In addition to everything else.
It's interesting when you're in a position of sort of trying to
educate the next generation of people about these kinds of
issues, you know, what's your perspective on that?
And how do you feel about the -- because I mean,
this is sort of a signaled change in this world.
And as you are talking to students kind of what is their
perspective and what is your perspective?
Adam Searing: Well, that is a -- I hadn't thought about that question.
I was focused on Alice's 72 meetings.
I was a little worried.
I think the students really, they have,
they have a lot of the same perspective that the general
public that we talk to in all of our community meetings.
Not 72, but a lot has.
And I think they, what is interesting,
and I find this sad, and I have heard this with -- in
talking with my fellow champions up here,
is that I bet they have had exactly the same experience.
That some of the misinformation that is out there makes it so
that people don't take advantage of the parts of the Affordable
Care Act that are already in place.
And I think that is just the worst part of all of this.
Because it is not, you know, we are slowly,
slowly implementing the whole thing.
But there is lots of it like the,
the coverage for students especially.
The coverage, for, for people under age 26 whether they are
in school or not.
Or in graduate school.
And you know, I think I read somewhere this past week that
one of the plaintiffs in that lawsuit in the Supreme Court
to get rid of the Affordable Care Act is,
is unfortunately she is a small business person and she just had
to declare bankruptcy and she has several thousand dollars
in medical bills.
Alice Kitchen: That's right.
Adam Searing: And that means that those hospitals,
we are all going to have to pay for those.
And she is still saying, well, I don't want this
Affordable Care Act.
Well, I mean that is hard for me to understand.
That is hard for us to understand.
But I would like to not be mad at her,
but sit down with her like we have sat down with so many
people and say, look, you know, have you thought about the,
the option of the high risk pools in the states?
Maybe that is something we can help you with.
Did you look at the tax credits for small businesses?
And I think that mirrors a lot of the same things that
all of us have.
Is when we sit down with people, whether it is students,
or whether it is the public, and there is so much misinformation
out there, that even the people who can be helped right now
don't take advantage of it.
And that is one of the most rewarding things to me when we
have someone like my friend Michael who is from APEX,
who is able to stay on his parents plan because of the ACA.
He is under 26.
He has chronic disease.
Or Carolyn in Ashville who is another friend who is able to
get on the high risk pool.
That they, the weight is off their shoulders and I would
like the weight to be off of everybody's shoulders and I
think we all would.
Mark Childress: Yeah, well said. Yeah.
Reverend Walling, just maybe you could take a couple of minutes
to talk to us about some of the unique you know challenges and
opportunities in the faith world as you have talked to
folks about the ACA.
Reverend Walling: I think I would like to start with the opportunities.
Mark Childress: Fair enough.
If you want, you can skip the challenges.
Reverend Walling: I will skip the challenges.
I think the faith community offers an incredible positive
environment in which we can begin talking about
the Affordable Care Act.
The 300 million people that call themselves Americans,
most claim to be people of faith even though they don't
necessarily engage in the practice of
institutional religion.
But they claim to be people of faith or at least people who
consider themselves to be moral and to ground their,
their living in moral principles.
And the faith community is not the only bearer of morality,
but if we don't lead the case for it,
then we can't expect it elsewhere.
And I think the faith community, one of the opportunities is that
we already have educational structures in place,
that can be tapped into.
We don't have to create a new wheel.
We don't have to invent a new wheel to,
to tap into the educational opportunities about the
Affordable Care Act.
And then our clergy are often on the front lines of medical
crisis with members of their congregations and educated
clergy can help people understand when they come in,
I can't do this because I don't have the money.
Are you aware of this, this, and this in the Affordable Care Act
that opens access to health care to them?
And so we have those opportunities to,
to be together.
And I think we have an opportunity to carry really two,
two messages.
One, that we have to move away from political debate
to moral discourse.
That all of our faith communities,
I haven't come across one yet, that does not affirm that needed
health care is something that everyone in this
country should have.
We disagree on how to get there.
But we believe that that should be a fact of life,
a right for who we are as an American people.
And we also believe in planning for the common good.
And in doing things that contribute to the wellbeing
of all of us.
And through the years that has been obvious in building our
interstate highways, our clean waters systems,
our communications systems, our educational systems.
That we sat down and said what do we need to thrive?
And we believe that it is time that health care become one of
the infrastructures that is -- that is developed to contribute
to the common good.
That when people go, we are -- I brought myself up from my
bootstraps and that everybody should be able to do that.
The faith community understands that not
everybody has bootstraps.
And the faith community also understands that all of the
people that seem to have done things on their own,
depended on all of those things that were part of
the common good.
Mark Childress: Right.
Reverend Walling: And so we -- those are the opportunities.
The challenges lie in the fact that the faith community is
probably the greatest representation of the
diversity in our country.
The same political diversity that exists in congress exists
in our faith communities.
And so talking about something that has become a political hot
potato, is something -- sometimes difficult.
But we can contribute to dialogue that regardless
of what our political etiologies are, we love the people that go
to worship with us.
We love spending time with them and going to dinners and
weddings and all of those things.
And if we can create places where we can dialogue together,
from the grass roots up, then we can make a difference.
Mark Childress: That is great.
We have time for -- I don't see anybody doing one of these.
So -- okay.
I want to actually hear from all of you because I am interested,
because you, you each have a sort of a unique perspective.
And you all are great advocates and missionaries as it were.
If you from your experience were trying to talk to other folks.
In other words, trying to get other people involved in this
effort, what have you all learned that would be the thing
that you would be most focused on as you were trying to get
other people to kind of take on this, this mission as it were?
So --
JoAnne Fischer: Secretary Sebelius talked about this having been in
this for quite a long time and I too last time
around had conversations and learned all of the
details of the act.
I think what is different now is our ability to talk
directly to people.
My colleagues here from Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies have put
forth Text For Baby.
Where through that we can talk directly to families about the
things that are most important to them.
So how to sign up for CHIP?
How do -- what are these provisions if you have a child
with special health care needs?
My colleagues here are tweeting and blast emailing and -- so I
think our capacity now to talk directly to people with their
particular issues of concern is something that we never had
before in such a big way.
And I think that this time around,
I think this is a real opportunity for us to talk much
more directly to people rather than through other spokespeople.
Mark Childress: That is great. Jan?
Jan Gilbert: You know, in my advocacy work at the state legislature,
I have seen one person really make a difference.
A young man came to legislature and he wanted to pass Right To
Die legislation.
Because his mother and his sister,
had had horrible prolonged deaths.
And so I you know walked him around.
Nevada is a small, small legislature and introduced him.
And he did it.
And I, I realized then that what I had to do was get more people
to do things like that.
They needed to talk about it.
Come and speak to the legislature.
Speak to their neighbors, the markets,
because the voices out there need to be heard,
and I think people tend to be so wrapped up in making their lives
just you know go on and struggling,
that they don't seem to want to speak out.
I do agree with you, JoAnne, and I have been the dinosaur of my
group with tweeting and you know all of these things.
And I am really getting better at it.
As a matter of fact, I came and I was ready to tweet and there
is no access in this building.
And they are waiting for me to do something.
So you know, we have the ability to do that and we are all
learning it.
And I think it does make a difference.
It makes a huge difference, so --
Mark Childress: I think that is good.
Alice Kitchen: In our small core group of five people,
as I said before, we are volunteers.
Most of us are retired or doing work off the job.
There -- we have wreaked many people in our two hour training
which we consider advanced training with the lengthy
power points.
We identified many people in those training sessions,
the 72 that we have done, in different spots and different
professions and trade groups and citizen groups and AAUW's,
and AARP groups.
People who are very attentive and ask really good questions.
And that is where you really increase your knowledge.
We pick them out and put them into a core group of about
twenty people.
I just sent them an email saying would you like to be a part of
the Train The Trainer Program so we can send you out?
And if you say yes, come in, we'll meet with you,
train you for the advanced training to be an ambassador.
And we can call you on and we expect you to do six to eight
in any given year.
Because we think this is going to be long process.
But there are large numbers of newly retired people who are
very active in their communities and we have filled that gap.
And I have already gotten responses from those people.
And there is no money involved.
No money, no legal stats.
At all.
We are all volunteers.
And we have no bosses and no daily schedules.
(laughter and applause)
Mark Childress: Sign me up.
Adam Searing: Alice, you had to mention the 72 meetings again.
That is very impressive actually.
You know, I think the new thing for us is bringing the voices of
the people who are effected to as many folks as we can.
And we are, it is so exciting.
We have been able to really use our video capability to bring
those stories and make very professional little you know
short vignettes which everybody is doing,
but then take those and get reporters and folks to cover
the stories of these people.
Because that is really the most powerful thing.
In fact, I am so, I am just so excited about this,
I am a native North Carolinian, but I am going to fly to
Albuquerque, New Mexico this afternoon to talk with another
group and -- but bring them equipment to do
exactly the same thing.
And we have been going all over the country,
me and my colleague, Adam Linker.
So we want those stories to get out to everybody.
And the video is a great way to do it.
Reverend Walling: I think I would be remiss to the many folks in the faith reform
network for, with whom I work and without whom I would not be
here today to receive this honor to say that perhaps one of the
greatest things we have learned is that we have
to be able to listen.
That as a nation, we have tended to demonize the people that
disagree with us, politically.
And in the faith community, we have, we have realized,
you know, we have to diffuse that.
We have to listen to each other because facts are trumped by
world views.
If somebody comes in predisposed to be angry at what you are
saying, then there is nothing you can say of a factual nature
that will change their minds.
So we really have to be engaged in talking to each other,
to listening to each other and bringing resolution to
our differences.
Mark Childress: That is, that is, yeah, I could not agree more.
That is fantastic.
I think that is a, that is a good point to end on.
The one thing I wanted to say, is this is sort
of a personal matter.
This, this area of public policy and particularly,
the Affordable Care Act, I personally have spent an
enormous amount of time on this.
This is something that, that means an enormous amount to me.
And nothing that all of the people, you know,
political hacks like me, have done to sort of get to this
point, would mean anything at all,
but for people like you all.
And I just want to thank you so much.
And I am so glad to have an opportunity for --
-- not that I am like a particularly bad political hack,
but, look, events like this are fantastic and thank you all so,
so much.
Jan Gilbert: Thank you.
JoAnne Fischer: Thank you.
Alice Kitchen: Thank you.
Adam Searing: Thank you.
Reverend Walling: Thank you.
Adam Searing: Are we allowed to stay up here?
Ann Widger: You are allowed to leave, Mark.
Mark Childress: Okay. Should I take my things?
Ann Widger: Yes, take your things.
Well, good afternoon.
Audience: Good afternoon.
Ann Widger: I think everybody can do better than that.
Good afternoon.
Audience: Good afternoon.
Ann Widger: Much better. Thank you.
I am Ann Widger, I am the director of External Affairs
at the Department of Health and Human Services,
so I work for Secretary Sebelius who you heard
from earlier today.
And I just want to take a few minutes to extend my thanks to
all of you, all of the champions,
and all of you in the audience for your participation today.
And really more importantly for all of the work that you have
been doing, here in DC, if you are from here,
but really across the country.
Because I know many of you even if you are from here,
the important work you do is the work you are,
you are doing across the country.
I also want to thanks some folks who have actually worked really
hard in putting this event together.
Karen Richardson who is wandering in the back from
White House Office Of Public Engagement and Kyle Lierman
who is also wandering.
As well as Torrie Scarborough from my staff who has been
working hand in hand with Karen Richardson and some of the other
members of my staff who have helped her along the way.
So if you would all give them a round of applause for me,
that would be great.
Always important to thank the people who are working hard on
this stuff.
And so we all, and I say we, we have all been on the front lines
of health reform for two plus years now.
And I think the Secretary mentioned my good friend Becky
in the back from the American Nurses Association.
And I remember being here at the White House and having Becky on
speed dial and working with us during,
during the passage of health reform.
And then all of the work that you are all doing now during
implementation, excuse me.
You know, we are all out there continuing to make the case that
we are a stronger, more prosperous country when all
Americans have access to quality affordable health care and we
should all be very, very proud of that work.
And I really don't need to tell you about the laws.
In fact, you have been hearing about it all afternoon,
but in fact I am going to do it any way.
You have heard that more than 2.5 million young people are
getting coverages through their parent's health plans.
Millions of seniors are avoiding high cost prescription drugs
saving almost $600 on average each year on
their medications now.
Small businesses are getting tax breaks on their health care
bills and are able to hire more employees.
And those are only just small snap shots.
You know, there are people like all of you who are working
tirelessly to educate folks about just those small pieces
of information to make sure people know what is in this,
in this law that is helping people right now.
And the more we educate people about the law,
the more they will be able to take advantage of these benefits
as you have heard from everybody today.
One of the best ways to help educate people about the law and
I think folks are doing this everyday here is to tell,
help tell the story about how people are being helped.
And I am going to talk to you a little bit about a campaign that
the Department of Health and Human Services launched just
this week to celebrate this two year anniversary of this
Affordable Care Act.
It is called "My Care."
And we hope you all will join by going to ""
I am going to say this a couple of times.
It is right on the front page.
Or you can do:
You can also tweet and use the hash tag My Care.
I am just learning about hash tags myself.
But those of you who tweet, you should tweet right now about it.
So what we are doing is a series of videos that are telling
people's stories.
So this is the third day in our week-long celebration of the two
year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act,
so we have released three videos so far.
The first one was a woman Helen, who saved money because of
discounts in the Doughnut Hole.
The second one was Vanessa, who now can get the care she needs
without being subject to lifetime limits.
And today it was Steven, who, who is now able to stay on his
parents' health insurance to get the care, the care he needs.
So what we are trying to do is have people tell their stories
and say, this is Helen Care, this is Steven Care.
This is Vanessa Care.
This is Ann Care and tweet about that and use this my
care hash tag.
So again it is,
And use that My Care hash tag.
I am going to encourage you all to do that.
For those of you who may not have been to,
generally, I do this sometimes.
Raise your hand if you have been on
Okay. Good.
This is, this is I am preaching to the choir here.
But those of you who are watching on the web stream,
go to there is wonderful information.
Fact sheets, information about implementation, time line,
and information if you are looking to find insurance,
on how to find that if you are currently uninsured.
So please do that.
I know we have another speaker and here he is.
So again I want to thank you all for being here today.
I have the pleasure to introduce our final speaker,
Mr. Michael Strautmanis, who is Deputy Assistant to the
President and Counselor to Valerie Jarrett.
And also a personal friend and mentor of mine.
So thank you so much, Michael for being here.
Michael Strautmanis: Hi, everybody.
I just want to take a second and interrupt the program
and say hello.
Congratulations. Congratulations.
Hi, everyone.
So I am through what is standing between you getting the heck out
of here.
So I am going to be brief.
I have best part, the best job in this whole day.
I get a chance to give you a very -- little bit detailed
thank you on behalf of the President,
on behalf of the First Lady, and on behalf of Valerie Jarrett,
my boss, who is on the road with the President right now.
But first, can we just -- one of the great things about working
here is that we have these awesome young professionals,
who are doing amazing work, really dedicating themselves
to public service, working long hours, doing great work.
So can we just say thank you to Ann, and to Kyle,
and to Karen and Jon Carson I know you met earlier today?
They are making us so proud. They are making us so proud.
So just congratulations to our Champions for their leadership
and the great work they are doing in their communities.
This series is really important.
And, you know, you may have heard,
that we do this just about every single week on different topics.
The reason why we do this and the reason why I love doing it,
is I have had the privilege of working for and knowing the
President and the First Lady for a little over twenty years now.
Since I talked my way into a job at a law firm as a paralegal in
Chicago when I was a college student.
And so one of the things I know, because I have seen it,
is they really believe that the best ideas come
from the community.
And that the best way to make the right decisions
in government is to listen to the community, and to,
to take ideas from those who are making it happen on the ground.
And so to be able to turn this into an actual program and to
recognize our Champions Of Change, it is just,
it is a thrill for me.
And so at a time when so many people are cynical about
government and so many people are cynical about how we are
helping one another and being our brother's keeper and being
our sister's keeper, it just feels good.
You know, I love it when we celebrate the
Superbowl champions.
I love it when we celebrate the World Series champions,
but let's just give one more applause to our champions here
who are educating people about health care.
One of the things that I know and I have been taught this
since, since I was old enough to hear some somebody's voice
is that knowledge is power.
And the ability to know what your rights are,
the ability to know what your benefits are,
and the ability to understand and get the information so that
you can get the health care that you have a right to,
as a citizen of this country, it is a powerful thing.
And it doesn't happen automatically.
It doesn't happen by osmosis.
It happens because individual citizens decide to get a little
bit out of their comfort zone and step up and step into the
breach, and explain to people who are so trusted.
They will trust you much more than they will trust some
political hack like me.
Some White House staffer like me.
They are going to trust you so much more.
And so you are really an inspiration to all of us who
are dedicated to public service.
You are an inspiration to the audience who are so dedicated
to this work.
I saw the hands raised for those who have been to,
that is really impressive.
You all made Ann's day.
She is going to go back to Secretary Sebelius
and brag about you.
You are an inspire -- you are going to be an inspiration to
everyone who, who really wants to get out and,
and help make a difference on this important issue.
And so millions of Americans have gained new access to
affordable health coverage and care through this law.
But if they don't know they have access to it and they don't know
how to connect to it, they are not going to get it.
So I want to close by saying just a warm thank you to
everyone for taking time out of your lives and your communities
and your worlds to just come here and conquer the stairs
and join us for a little while today.
To celebrate something important.
I want to thank our Champions for being leaders in their
communities and being leaders for all of us.
And, and really I just think if we do this,
continue to do this work together with this spirit of
community, we are going to make a huge difference in the lives
of Americans who need it the most.
Thank you so much everyone.