The tagline of Families USA’s Health Action 2014 conference last week called for “making the promise real.” APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin spoke about that promise, made possible by the Affordable Care Act, in nearly 20 radio interviews during the meeting of health reform advocates on Capitol Hill.
Here are some notable soundbites taken from his interview with the “Jeff Santos Show” on Revolution Radio Network:
On the ACA enrollment since the Health Insurance Marketplace launched Oct. 1: “At least 9 million more people are with health insurance than we had in October. This is absolutely wonderful … and [there will be] more people to come. We’re going to get to a society where we have everybody in, nobody out.”
On how the American people think about the ACA: “I think the great noise machine has created so much confusion that people are not clear on the facts and that when they’re hearing the facts, they are confused. There’s a trust issue here. … The surveys still show that there’s a lot more people who don’t support this but when you explain it to them, when you don’t call it Obamacare, when you talk about what it actually does — particularly if they’re impacted by this in some meaningful way and they get a benefit — you remind them that this benefit is available because of the ACA. Then they have an ‘Aha!’ moment. We see that more and more as I talk to people around the county.”
On how the ACA improves health outcomes: “It’s time for us to pivot and talk about [the ACA’s] health impact. At the end of the day, the big difference is the number of people who die prematurely —because they don’t have health insurance — making the point that in those states that are covering everybody, their health outcomes are going to be better than those who do not.”
On how public health can advocate for the ACA: “There’s an opportunity for us to get out with real examples. … Now you’re going to find people who weren’t covered before, who are now covered, who can tell their story. Or people who were not believers in the ACA who grudgingly got covered, grudgingly got in the system, all of a sudden saying how wonderful this is. We’re going to have governors and elected officials who were against this now saying this is a good thing. We’ve seen this before. … It’s up to folks like us to make that happen.”
On how public health can teach the ACA in low-income communities: “I’m going to ask folks to get down into the hood. I want this to become a subject of conversation in barber shops, in hair salons and in the churches. I can envision health coverage ministries developing where they’re educating people, not just about getting an insurance card but how to use the system. That way we can reduce costs.”
On the future of ACA enrollment: “The health exchange rollout has been challenging. But we’ve got thousands of kids who are still on their parents’ insurance policies. We’ve got a whole public health and prevention program up. We’ve got a national conversation around health care that we’ve never had before. More and more people are thinking about health as a fundamental human right. The president has said that and more and more you’re hearing people overtly stating that point.”