Burwell: O-Care helping African-Americans

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia BurwellSylvia Mary Mathews BurwellPence, Fauci to brief lawmakers on coronavirus Why Trump will win the wall fight Price was a disaster for HHS — Time for an administrator, not an ideologue MORE painted ObamaCare as part of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, calling the law an effective tool for decreasing health inequality between white and black Americans. 

"African-Americans have the lowest life expectancy of any other race in this country," Burwell said in a speech to the National Action Network, a civil rights group founded by Rev. Al Sharpton. 

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"Health inequalities impact our nation’s potential — from access to education to the stability of families and communities. And whether you are someone who now has access to health insurance on the marketplace, someone who is newly eligible for Medicaid coverage, or someone who is covered through employer-based care — this new law impacts you." 

The speech marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day came as HHS ramps up its outreach to the uninsured ahead of next month's deadline for obtaining coverage in 2015. 

Burwell has been marketing the law's coverage options nonstop and explained them again on Monday, urging the audience to participate in the effort to broaden health insurance coverage. 

"In the spirit of Dr. King, we are asking you to help us again, in big ways and small. Host an enrollment event at your church or community center. Reach out to your partners and ask for their help. Use Twitter and social media to spread the word about the February 15 deadline. Tell your neighbors and friends," she said. 

Roughly 1.7 million African-Americans gained medical coverage during the first open enrollment period under ObamaCare, Burwell said. 

The former Clinton administration official also shared how Martin Luther King Jr. inspired her to enter public service. 

"The ideas he talked about and the courage he acted with inspire so many of us today … to a life of service," she said. 

"He helped inspire my father to start an NAACP chapter in my town where there is a Confederate soldier on Union Street. He showed people of faith like myself the way to live our faith in acts."