Sebelius pushes for Affordable Care Act coverage in New Orleans


Posted on March 20, 2014 at 6:32 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 20 at 6:40 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEW ORLEANS -- It's an 11th hour attempt to boost enrollment numbers for PPACA, known as Obamacare.

Twelve days are left to sign up if you want coverage for the rest of 2014. So U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is traveling to 25 cities with a high rate of uninsured people.

New Orleans is one of those cities.

"Twenty percent of the residents are uninsured and eligible for the new healthcare bill. Statewide that's about 795,000. And here in New Orleans it's about 175,000 folks," said Secretary Sebelius.

The mayor, Sebelius and state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, all took issue with Gov. Bobby Jindal.

"Of course, continue to hope that Governor Jindal changes his mind and accepts Medicaid expansion in the state of Louisiana, which of course, would make affordable health care available to a couple of 100,000 Louisiana citizens and generate significant health savings," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu from the podium.

A young local entrepreneur was asked to encourage other young people to enroll. For the plan to work, there has to be a good balance of young, healthy people.

Right now 30 percent of the enrollees are in that age group.

"This healthcare is actually perfect for me as a person that is pushing to start my own family, start and grow my business. It makes me a lot more secure in being able to take on those responsibilities," said Chris Merritt, 27 who did not have health insurance before.

In an exclusive one-on-one interview after the press conference, we asked if three things will change the numbers of enrollees and cause the cost to go up for others:

1. Twenty percent of enrolled people still have not paid for coverage.

2. The people who enrolled because they lost their insurance due to Obamacare.

3. The people enrolled who were already paying no out-of-pocket expenses because they were on Medicaid before Obamacare.

"They don't get added or subtracted. It's really about people who don't have affordable coverage in their workplace and small business owners who want to offer coverage," said Sebelius.

She said people can get help enrolling by talking to live operators at 1-800-318-2596.

Earlier today, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., released a statement about the Secretary's visit and why people need relief from Obamacare. It stated in part:

"Thousands of Louisiana families have seen their work hours reduced, resulting in smaller paychecks while their health care premiums skyrocket."

For people who don't have insurance, The Daughters of Charity Clinics around the city provide medical care on a sliding scale.

They also have programs, for people who can't afford doctor visits, to get monetary help.

They also partner with to help people who need health care information.