Interview: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA-TV

Posted on April 15, 2010 at 3:27 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 21 at 5:38 PM

Although tea parties in Texas lost the health care battle, they are not giving up the war.

Several tea party protests are scheduled in the area to demand repeal of the new health care law hoping to send a message to Washington.

But since tea party participants are treating the health care law as government overspending and taxing, the Obama administration has a response.

In an exclusive interview with News 8, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius defended the landmark legislation.

"It's really the largest tax break for working class families and middle class families for health care ever passed in the history of the United States," she said.

She stressed how Texans will benefit.

Small businesses this year get a health care tax break and seniors will get financial help with Medicare drug coverage.

Sebelius disputed the estimated cost to Texas taxpayers for expanding Medicaid made by Gov. Perry.

“Somewhere north of $27 billion over the next 10 years will be Texas' cost," Perry said, "and we don't think it will improve the delivery of health care.”

Sebelius says that's wrong. She claims Perry fails to account for the fact that Texas pays nothing extra the first three years and just up to 10 percent after that. 

“So I don't know where Gov. Perry's numbers exactly come from, but that number seems wildly high,” the HHS chief said.

Perry talks of resisting the new health care law. “My hope is that they will overturn it, start back over and truly reform health care,” the governor said.

Sebelius says she prefers to look forward. “I think it confuses a lot of people, and they don't really know what to believe,” she said.

As Perry curries tea party support, Sebelius has this reminder:  “Well, first of all, the bill is paid for, which is a real novel idea here in Washington.”

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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