Sebelius discusses health care reform signups in Jacksonville

Author: Kent Justice, Anchor, reporter, kjustice@wjxt.com
Published On: Jan 24 2014 11:49:12 AM EST   Updated On: Jan 24 2014 06:36:32 PM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Health care reform is at the top of the agenda in Jacksonville this weekend, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius was in the River City on Friday to talk about it.

At the Bob Hayes Sports Complex and Legends Center in Northwest Jacksonville, Sebelius announced that 3 million Americans have signed up as of Jan. 15. That's up about 900,000 people from the end of last year.

State Rep. Mia Jones welcomed Sebelius to the sports complex for the news conference Friday morning.

Get Covered America is going to work with the city of Jacksonville to bring in people who need insurance to evaluate the plans available and what fits for them.

Sebelius said things are ramping up in signups, and all the website problems last fall are a thing of the past.

"Up until the end of December, more than 158,000 Floridians -- one in eight signed up from here in Florida, but a lot of people still need to be reached," Sebelius said. "Twenty-three percent of the population is uninsured and is eligible for health insurance -- about 3.5 million people; 203,000 of those live here in the Jacksonville area. We have significant work to do."

Sebelius also directed her comments at the inaction taken so far by state lawmakers concerning Medicaid expansion.

"Currently, the state of Florida stands to lose $51.3 billion in federal dollars that's available to help those uninsured," she said.

On Saturday, the city will get involved in trying to help people find out if they're eligible and then sign up. The event is being held by a coalition of health care advocates and nonprofits and is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"It's critical," Jones said. "We're in District 14 right now. When you look at 60,000 citizens between 32208, 09 and 18, it just raises the awareness on why we need this event and as many events as we can have like this one and make sure we get the word out."

Before Sebelius said a word in her news conference, Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry issued this statement: "President Obama is once again dispatching Kathleen Sebelius to the Sunshine State today to sell Obamacare, a failed policy that has led to 300,000 Floridians losing health insurance plans they like. Floridians aren't buying the sales job on Obamacare."

While Sebelius says things are going great, the 3 million people milestone may be misleading. That's the number of people who have picked a health plan but haven't necessarily paid for it.

One publication says that's like Amazon counting every item in the shopping cart as a sale.