Senior advisor to President Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, talks with the Tom Joyner Morning Show about the inception of the Affordable Care Act.
TOM JOYNER: Senior advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett is on the phone. All right, Valerie Jarrett, let’s get this party started. Let’s get people registered for the Affordable Act. Break it down.
VALERIE JARRETT: That is right, beginning today, October 1, you can go online at Healthcare.gov, and for many families the first time ever they’ll be able to have access to affordable health insurance. Everybody should do it.
TOM JOYNER: All right, everybody is eligible?
VALERIE JARRETT: Everybody who doesn’t have healthcare. Any American. Any American, you can have a preexisting condition, it doesn’t matter. No longer can insurance companies deny you coverage beginning today. If you are unemployed, or you work for a company that doesn’t provide health insurance, today is your day. You can sign up today, anytime between today and March 31st. And beginning January of 2014, that’s just a few months from now; you will have access to health insurance.
TOM JOYNER: Okay. This is affordable healthcare, not free healthcare.
VALERIE JARRETT: Affordable healthcare. So every state will have online, you can go online and see the different plans, the health plans that are available in your state, find one that works for you, there will be in some states multiple plans on average, on average now, six and ten Americans will be able to buy insurance for less than $100 a month. So it’s cheaper than those cellphone bills. Isn’t your body more important to you than a cellphone?
TOM JOYNER: What’s your deductible going to be?
VALERIE JARRETT: Well, they vary, again. But one thing that’s important, and this occurred for everyone who had health insurance and it now applies to those of who previously did not. A lot of preventive care will be available without any copay. So for women, for example, you can get your annual mammograms, your pap smears, screening for domestic violence, tests for other diseases, contraception with no copay. No copay. And the reason why is we want people to go in there and get that preventive care that they need that will enable them to lead healthier lives.
SW: Now what happens, Valarie, if they do not sign up for this? What are the penalties?
VALERIE JARRETT: Well, you know what, you’re going to pay a penalty, and this is something we debated when the Affordable Care Act was going through. And the reason why you’ll have to pay a penalty is that if you don’t sign up for insurance and you get sick where do you go? We all know you go to the emergency room. And the emergency room will treat you. Well, who pays for that? We all pay for that. And so part of how this whole health plan works is that, because now we’re going to have all these, you know, 30 million people who previously didn’t have insurance are going to buy it. The revenue that comes from that is going to be what enables us to keep insurance companies from discriminating against people who have preexisting conditions. So later today in the Oval Office, the President is going to have some folks come, a few of whom who have preexisting conditions who were unable to get health insurance before, and they go into an insurance company and say; can you cover me? I have this illness. And the insurance company said no. Insurance companies, as of today, have to say yes.
TOM JOYNER: What if you’re unemployed, or furloughed, you have no money. You can’t afford anything, least of all insurance. What do you do?
VALERIE JARRETT: Well, you know what, there are going to be tax credits for people who have no salaries, or no salaries. Medicaid is going to be expanded in many states. We asked all states to expand their Medicaid coverage, to people, up to 133% of the poverty line; several states did expand that Medicaid.
The Medicaid is going to be available to a lot of folks as well. But I guess the fundamental point here Tom is that it’s an historic day. The irony of the Republicans in the House of Representatives trying to shut down the government to repeal Obamacare. As of today Obamacare is going forward full speed ahead. And so isn’t that somewhat ironic? You got to ask yourself why would they want to repeal something that’s going to provide healthcare to millions of Americans.
SYBIL WILKES: And they’ll still have healthcare even if they aren’t working today.
VALERIE JARRETT: Exactly.
TOM JOYNER: Why can’t we take their healthcare?
VALERIE JARRETT: Pardon me?
TOM JOYNER: Why can’t we take Congress’ healthcare?
VALERIE JARRETT: Well, you wouldn’t want to ask yourself that question. So we encourage them to do their job.
SYBIL WILKES: Well, we can take it by the elections next year.
VALERIE JARRETT: There are people that are listening to you all over the country on their way to work doing their jobs. We need the Republicans in the House to do their job…
TOM JOYNER: And to register all you have to do is do what, Valarie? To register for …
VALERIE JARRETT: Well, you got to go on healthcare.gov, or if you have a question, you can call 1-800- 318 -2596. That’s 1-800- 318- 2596 and there will be people available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you may have in 150 languages by the way.
TOM JOYNER: All right.
SYBIL WILKES: Happy Affordable Care Day.
VALERIE JARRETT: Thank you so much, Sybil. Take care, Tom.
TOM JOYNER: All right, Valerie.
VALERIE JARRETT: Bye-bye.