In an exclusive on-camera interview with The Texas Tribune on Friday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discussed the federal government's efforts to cooperate with a state like Texas, where GOP leaders have been hostile to the Affordable Care Act.
Sebelius was at Seton Medical Center in central Austin to tour the neonatal intensive care unit and to participate in a roundtable discussion about Partnership for Patients, a public-private partnership trying to create a better model for improving patient care and save money. The Obama administration's top health policy official praised Seton for its low birth trauma rates.
During the interview, Sebelius — a former governor of Kansas — responded to questions about the anti-Washington, anti-health care reform rhetoric from Texas GOP leaders, whether the administration would allow the state to take over control of Medicaid, what happens if Gov. Perry continues to oppose the creation of a state health insurance exchange and patient privacy concerns.
"I know Governor Perry. We actually served together as governors for seven years, and I understand how often legislators and governors are often unhappy with what they see as a rigid federal bureaucracy," she said. "I would say in spite of the myths out there about the Affordable Care Act, it’s one of the most state-friendly bills that’s been written in my legislative and gubernatorial experience."
Sebelius said Texas "has an enormous amount to gain" from the federal reforms because it has one of the highest rates of uninsured citizens in the country.
"We will work with [Gov. Perry] and with his team in whatever ways he chooses to work with us," she said. "We want to be good partners at the state level."
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