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Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell: ‘It’s time to move forward’

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Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said it’s “time to move forward” now that the U.S. Supreme Court of the United States in a 6-3 ruling upheld tax subsidies for people who enroll in the federal healthcare exchange.

“And I hope that this week’s Supreme Court decision will push us to do what I believe Americans want, which is to come together and focus on the substance and begin working to build an even better healthcare system. It’s time to move forward.”

Burwell said now that King v Burwell has been decided and the subsidies have been affirmed, the administration will focus on preventive care, quality and access. She said there is “common ground” on the quality of care concerns and that there is a “real opportunity to make progress.”

Medicaid expansion, a key component of the federal healthcare law often called Obamacare, continues to be a priority for the administration. Gov. Rick Scott opposes a Medicaid expansion and so does the Florida House of Representatives.

The Florida Senate, though, supports the expansion. In the regular 2015 legislative session and the recent special session A the Senate passed a Medicaid expansion program called FHIX. The proposed expansion would have had work or school requirements and co-payment requirements.

Opponents of the FHIX plan noted that even if the expansion was approved at the state level the federal government would not sign off on the plan. Burwell on Thursday said for states like Florida considering alternatives to traditional Medicaid expansion her agency considers the goal of the federal law, which is to provide low-income people with affordable health insurance, and balances that with providing the flexibility that some states need.

“I will admit they are conversations, because it is state by state. What’s a priority in one state is not necessarily a priority in another.”

She did not say whether the federal government would approve work requirements but did note that many of the low-income people who would benefit from an expansion are working.

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