Secretary Sebelius visits CAMLS to talk about healthcare reform

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Tampa, FL (Feb. 2, 2012) – USF Health’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation doesn’t officially open until Monday.

But on Thursday, USF Health hosted its first public event at CAMLS: a visit from U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in Tampa to tout the benefits of the federal Affordable Care Act.  She was welcomed by USF President Judy Genshaft and City of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

“This is an amazing university, and this facility will be on the map across the country and across the world,” Sebelius said of CAMLS. “I have no doubt of that.”

Dr. Stephen Klasko, dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and CEO of USF Health, said CAMLS is an especially appropriate forum for Sebelius’ panel discussion.

“Everything that the Secretary has talked about is going to require a different level of teamwork,” said Dr. Klasko. “So we feel like we’re a partner with the Affordable Care Act.”

The 90,000 square foot CAMLS facility will bring health professionals from around the world to downtown Tampa for training, assessment and research in advanced surgical skills and teamwork.

At Thursday’s event, Sebelius led a panel discussion of how women’s health will be affected by the Affordable Care Act. By making easier for women to get their health care needs covered by insurance, the Act will increase access to health care, Sebelius said.

“We have had a healthcare insurance industry that, for too long, got to pick and choose who got health coverage and who did not,” she said.

Sebelius pointed to several benefits of the Act, including allowing young adults to be covered by parental insurance; decreasing Medicare costs, including for preventive coverage; and making it easier for people with chronic illnesses to get insurance coverage.

Women whose health issues would be affected by the Act joined Sebelius in a panel discussion Thursday, as did two doctors, including Dr. Catherine Lynch, associate vice president of Women’s Health for USF Health.

Physicians have a responsibility to let their patients know key provisions of the act, Dr. Lynch said. For instance, she pointed out that the act’s preventive care provisions will require coverage of breast pumps, making it easier for working mothers to breastfeed their babies.

“We need to really be advocates for our patients and let them know what’s available,” Dr. Lynch said.

Panelists talked about how partisan politics have left many people misinformed or confused about what the Affordable Care Act would actually do. Sebelius said she believes that public opinion will shift as more provisions of the act go into effect.

“Once people understand what’s in the bill, they think it’s a pretty good idea,” she said.

- Story by Lisa Greene, photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications