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Health & Wellness

HHS Secretary Urges Enrollment In Health Insurance Plan

Bill Zeeble
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell (center) stands behind Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings as a health care assistant at Parkland helps the seated enrollee sign up for insurance

A year after the launch of the Affordable Care Act, more than half a million Dallas County residents still lack health insurance. Dallas officials joined the Health and Human Services Secretary urging people to sign up.

New HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell knows last year’s introduction of the first health insurance enrollment was sick from the start. She’s been working to fix it and says these days it’s running better.

“In one year alone in our nation, 10.3 million adults are no longer uninsured,” Secretary Burwell said, “and a number of those are here in Texas and a number of those are here in this very city and we want to build on that record. And that’s what we’re here to talk a little bit about today.”

The number of uninsured in Dallas is among the highest in Texas, says Mayor Mike Rawlings. At close to 600,000 – what he describes as six sold out AT&T stadiums -  he says that’s unacceptable. He wants to build on last year’s enrollment figures, when locally, 215,000 people signed up for health insurance

“By the way, my son was one of those. Last year we talked, he was uninsured, he was an independent contractor and he got online and bought himself a plan,” the Mayor said. “That’s the way you start in life.”

Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and County Judge Clay Jenkins (l-r) held a press briefing at Parkland Hospital to encourage uninsured residents to sign up for health insurance under The Affordable Care Act

  Rawlings stressed that healthy residents help make for a healthy city. He borrowed a pitch he recalled from the 1970s. The tv ad man was selling oil wells, saying if you don’t have one, you need to get one!

“…and it was like, what type of town do you sell oil wells? And if you don’t have a plan, get one. Ok? That’s the message we’re trying to give out.” 

Enrollment in the second year of the Affordable Care Act just opened, and it runs through February 15th of 2015.