Former Obama health secretary stops in Dayton to support ACA

The first health and human services secretary under President Barack Obama stopped in Dayton Thursday as part of a larger campaign to support the Affordable Care Act as it remains under fire from President Donald Trump’s administration.

Former Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a Cincinnati native, said part of the reason for the bus tour, dubbed “Save My Care,” is because the fight over whether to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is not over, despite the failed effort to pass a bill in July that would repeal parts of the ACA.

“Part of it is to say this battle is a long way from being over because you still have a president and party leaders who say ‘We’re going to go right back and try to do this again when the Senate reconvenes,’” she said.

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In Ohio, Sen. Rob Portman voted for the GOP measure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act but was one of seven Republicans that voted against the repeal only bill. Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown also voted against the repeal bill.

“Obamacare isn’t working for Ohio families and small businesses, many of whom have seen their premiums and deductibles skyrocket,” said Kevin Smith, spokesman for Senator Portman, in response to Sebelius’ visit. “Rob will continue working with his colleagues on a better health care system that lowers costs, increases access to quality care, and protects the most vulnerable in our society.”

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Sebelius is part of an effort by former Obama Administration officials who are rallying behind Obama’s signature bill as it comes under attack. The New York Times reported the Obama aides have helped direct about $6 million toward television ads by Save My Care.

Sebelius, who also later addressed a group in Courthouse Plaza along with Mayor Nan Whaley, said prior to the event that part of the bus tour is to hold elected officials responsible for their health care votes.

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“I think that’s part of what this bus tour is about. Starting in California working all the way across the country to Washington, to remind average citizens that this is about their neighbors, their friends, their family, but it’s also about holding their elected representatives accountable and letting folks know that people are watching, they care about this and they want them to work for their behalf and their health care,” she said.

Sebelius cited Ohio Gov. John Kasich as an example of bipartisan health care policy effort.

“You have a Republican governor who has expanded Medicaid and knows that 700,000 people now have health coverage and that would be rolled back and the Ohio budget would get hit hard,” she said.

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