U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price visited Sandy today to listen to Utahns reactions to the current state of healthcare.
Standing front of an enormous American flag, Secretary Price spoke to local business and political leaders. He told them that his goal as HHS secretary is to increase access to health insurance. He said the Affordable Care Act has left people without insurance and paying penalties, or burdened by high premiums and deductibles.
"We believe you can get to a much higher level of insurance coverage by offering people the option to buy what they want to buy, not what Washington tells them to buy," Price said.
The U.S. Senate could vote on the newest proposed replacement to the ACA as early as this week. Price says eliminating a rigid health system and adding flexibility would give people more incentive to sign up.
"But that means that what’s right for one individual isn’t necessarily right for another individual and the system has to accommodate that," Price said.
Protesters gathered outside the meeting. Psarah Johnson was born with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. She says the ACA is designed to help her and others with chronic health problems.
"What I do have through the ACA is protection that I cannot be denied coverage because I happen to have a disability," Johnson said.
Johnson and other protesters were frustrated that Price met with business leaders, but didn’t include patients who rely on the ACA. Sue Corth says she only heard about Secretary Price’s visit the night before.
"You know, a fact-finding isn’t a closed session. The only way you get facts is if you listen to all sides of the story," Corth said.
Like Johnson, Corth is concerned about pre-existing conditions. She has temporary insurance on COBRA and is anticipating purchasing insurance through the ACA, but she’s afraid she could have trouble getting coverage in the future if lawmakers repeal and replace Obamacare.