The White House is looking to avoid a partisan flare-up as it rings in the sixth anniversary of ObamaCare.
In a series of events this week, the Obama administration will look beyond the law’s central issues of access and affordability and explore the “next chapter” of healthcare reform.
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell plans to “broaden the conversation” about the 2010 law to highlight system-wide reforms to lower costs and improve quality, a senior administration official told The Hill.
“It’s important to lay out the next chapter in the [Affordable Care Act] — building a healthcare system that puts patients at the center and works better for all Americans,” the official said.
The initiatives — such as delivery system reform and bundled payments — are non-controversial and have bipartisan support in Congress.
The pivot toward less controversial aspects of the law could prove helpful to Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 Clinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty MORE, who has focused on preserving ObamaCare while improving it.
Her rival, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFranken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour Pelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill top line higher than Senate's Groups push lawmakers to use defense bill to end support for Saudis in Yemen civil war MORE (I-Vt.), has called for a massive overhaul toward a "Medicare-for-all" system.
The White House’s weeklong focus on system-wide reforms — rather than the record low uninsured rate or popular provisions like banning insurance providers from denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition — reflects growing confidence in the administration that the law will stay on the books after Obama leaves office.
Burwell stressed as recently as Thursday stressed the healthcare law is here to stay.
“The effects and impact, I think, are broad-ranging and deep,” Burwell said about the potential impact of repealing ObamaCare at an event sponsored by The Hill on Thursday. “The progress we’ve made, access would go backwards.”
While still polarizing, the political debate around healthcare has begun to move away from ObamaCare. Polling shows that more Republicans are now concerned with lowering the costs of drugs than repealing the law.
Among the 2016 race, none of the three GOP contenders have put forward detailed replacement plans for ObamaCare. In Congress, a group of House Republicans tasked with drafting a replacement plan this year has so far only released a mission statement.
The White House is not planning to address repeal attempts as it celebrates the law, which was signed in March 2010.
Over the next week, HHS will release animated videos to explain delivery system reform “in everyday language.” Burwell will make an appearance at a Washington, D.C., community center to underscore the “higher quality” of insurance plans.
The White House will also announce a series of events, starting next month, that will “highlight the significant progress made in improving access to and quality of health care” under the Obama presidency.