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October 24, 2014

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Obama’s health chief says reform bill will expand care

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Leila Navidi

Congresswomen Shelley Berkley, from left, and Dina Titus speak to the public during a meeting with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, right, to talk about the recently passed health care bill, at the Henderson Multigenerational Center in Henderson on Monday, Sept. 27, 2010.

Health Care Bill Meeting

Congresswomen Shelley Berkley, from left, and Dina Titus speak to the public during a meeting with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, right, to talk about the recently passed health care bill, at the Henderson Multigenerational Center in Henderson on Monday, Sept. 27, 2010. Launch slideshow »

U.S. Reps. Dina Titus and Shelley Berkley met with a crowd of about 100 friendly supporters Monday to discuss benefits of the recently passed health care bill alongside U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

Although the event was billed as a chance to clarify elements of the health care bill, it also served as a campaign stop. Both Berkley and Titus are seeking re-election in November, and both supported the bill, which passed in March.

Sebelius said she had been touring the country to educate the public about the bill. At least 30 million people could gain coverage in 2019 when the law is fully phased in. More than 20 million others would remain uninsured.

“Health care is very personal,” Sebelius said. “What people want to know is ‘what happens to me and my family?’”

Sebelius said many provisions of the law went into effect Sept. 23, including one preventing “recisions,” or the practice of companies taking away benefits after someone gets sick.

Recisions often happen when an insurance company begins to look for errors made in the application process to avoid having to provide coverage to sick people, Sebelius said. The law will also prevent companies from placing lifetime caps on certain procedures, she said.

“While that only affects a really small number of people … if you are in that situation, it’s often a situation of life and death, or bankruptcy or not bankruptcy,” she said.

Another provision requires insurance companies to cover children.

For years, she said, insurance companies had been providing health care “to children who promise not to get sick.” Now, she said, they’ll have to cover all of them.

Berkley said she was horrified when she learned that 600,000 Southern Nevadans don’t have health insurance. When her husband, a doctor and kidney specialist, said he thought the bill was important, she said she supported it because he told her it helped both patients and doctors.

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Paula Walters holds her son Preston, 4, during a meeting with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Congresswomen Dina Titus and Shelley Berkley to talk about the recently-passed healthcare bill at the Henderson Multigenerational Center in Henderson Monday, September 27, 2010. Preston's father Jeff talked on the panel about his experiences with insurance companies while his son had cancer.

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Kelly Kosters, from left, gets a hug from U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after Kosters talked about her sister's losing battle with leukemia and insurance companies during a meeting with the public led by Congresswomen Dina Titus and Shelley Berkley to talk about the recently-passed healthcare bill at the Henderson Multigenerational Center in Henderson Monday, September 27, 2010.

Sebelius said one myth of the health reform package is that it only benefits those without health insurance. But she said those with health insurance will see benefits, such as the removal of caps on coverage and removal of co-pays from preventative care services, such as mammograms or immunizations.

Las Vegas resident Jeff Walters said during the event that he supported the federal health care overhaul. He said his son, 4-year-old Preston, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma and was treated at a Tucson hospital, where he received a stem cell transplant.

Because his insurance only covered $100,000 of the transplant costs, he said his family had to come up with $20,000. The $100,000 cap is a lifetime cap, Walters said, which means any other transplant would be paid out-of-pocket.

“There’s a high chance of relapse,” said Paula Walters, while holding her son.

Kelly Kosters said her sister, Christy Annett, died in 2009 because she couldn’t get treatment for leukemia. Annett, a UNLV graduate and former kindergarten teacher, was diagnosed with leukemia in 1995 at age 17.

Once when she signed up for insurance, she was asked if she had been treated for cancer within the past 10 years, Kosters said. At the time, it had been 11 years since her leukemia treatment.

But when she relapsed, Kosters said the company refused to cover her, saying she had lied on her application. She continued to struggle with health treatment in the final years of her life, her sister said.

Republicans were critical of Sebelius’ visit and the health reform package.

The event took place at the Henderson Multigenerational Center, 250 S. Green Valley Parkway, within Titus’ district. A spokeswoman for Titus’ opponent, Joe Heck, said the event was part of a “re-education” agenda.

“Despite the fact that Democrats across the country are running from their health care vote, Dina Titus chooses to instead mischaracterize what the bill really does,” Heck spokeswoman Mari Nakashima said in a statement.

Nakashima said the bill would raise premiums and destroy Medicare.

Before the event, about 10 Sharron Angle supporters picketed along Paseo Verde Drive, holding signs that read “No Obamacare.” Angle's opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has supported the legislation.

By the time the event ended, the picketers were gone.

Jerry Stacy, a spokesman for Angle, responded to Sebelius' visit by calling "ObamaCare" a "monstrosity."

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  1. Was this "campaign stop" paid for by the DNC or by the taxpayer?

  2. Dina Titus sealed her own fate when she voted for ObamaCare.

    The People will vote for Joe Heck to replace her.

    The House needs to repeal this intrusive and expensive law.

  3. I Guess insurance companies cutting off people so they die is part of the "conservative" agenda. Most tea partiers are one stroke or one tumor away from bankruptcy, unless they are on Medicare...and the libertarian loonies want to do away with that program as they bring back segregated lunch counters in the name of "private property."

    Heck gets his medical care through the military? Sounds like "government" to me.

  4. Well, the CBO is already saying that the bill fails to bend the cost curve down as we were told it would and that it will cost substantially more than Congress said that it would. Like anything, there are some positive parts to the bill but there are quite a few negatives. Many of those things are not currently known because they are left to regulators in federal agencies to define them. We will not know exactly what most of the impact will be until years from now. In that time you could have a number of things that people expect to be good changes prove to be otherwise. The reverse could also be true. In the end there are many unanswered questions other than several of the key talking points have already been found to be untrue.

  5. JanK says: "Dina Titus sealed her own fate when she voted for ObamaCare."

    Yes. Agree. And her fate is that she will be re-elected. Because she DOES things for people.

    And I'd like to correct your Republican Party slanted nomenclature. It's not "Obamacare." It's health care reform; the very first all encompassing health care for the nation that declares it's a right...not a privilege.

  6. Heck gets his medical care from the government. People who have been faced with insurance company's "life caps" and "rescission's," now can have insurance for the families.

    The tea-party sheep are blinded by their own kooky conspiracy theories and their FOX and talk-radio Svengali's.

    The latest nut-bar Republican conspiracy theory is that: "liberal CBS TV had Justin Bieber portray a Las Vegas youth who was inspired by a right wing anti-government "tea party" group on the TV show "CSI." This to trash the candidacy of Sharon Angle. Another "Sal Alinsky tactic?"

    The tea party people and talk radio crowd can't separate fiction from reality, whether it is health-care or a TV show situated in Las Vegas.