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January 18, 2013
Contact: HHS Press Office

Statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

We at the Department of Health and Human Services honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for justice, and recall how 47 years ago he framed health care as a basic human right.

We are committed to reducing health disparities, and that means making sure all Americans have access to affordable, quality health care. There is nothing more fundamental to pursuing the American dream than good health. The healthier we are, the more freedom we have to contribute to our families and communities.

Yet, we know that Americans from minority and underserved communities today are more likely to suffer from diabetes, heart disease, or other serious illnesses. They are more likely to go without the preventive care they need to stay healthy. And when they do get sick, they’re less likely to have access to the treatment they need to get better.

That is why we at HHS are working hard to implement the Affordable Care Act and give all Americans the peace of mind that having health insurance coverage provides. This includes continuing our efforts to provide preventive services at no extra charge, to help seniors afford their medications, and to ensure that children— and eventually all Americans—can get health insurance regardless of a pre-existing condition.

And, because of the health care law, there’s more good news for hard-working families. Across the country, states are creating Health Insurance Marketplaces to give uninsured and underinsured Americans the ability to shop for quality coverage that suits their needs and fits their budgets. Open enrollment begins on Oct. 1, 2013, and coverage begins on Jan. 1, 2014. Reach out to your loved ones, friends, and neighbors and urge them to check out HealthCare.gov for tips on what they can do now to prepare for enrollment.

The Affordable Care Act is a big step in closing gaps in coverage and care, and it’s moving us closer to our goal of health equity throughout the country. But there is more work to be done to fully realize Dr. King’s dream of health equality for all Americans. Please join us in answering Dr. King’s call to action by helping all Americans get the health care and security they need and deserve.

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other news materials are available at https://www.hhs.gov/news.
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Last revised: January 18, 2013

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