Texas Navigators Successfully Implement ACA
Today in Dallas, GOP Chairman Darrel Issa, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is continuing his ACA witch-hunt and doing his best to scare people away from signing up for health insurance. A strong rebuttal to Issa's silliness was published in the Dallas Morning News by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. In it, she writes:
Navigators and other assisters work to educate people about their new options. They’re not paid to sell insurance. Rather, they work to help people understand what financial help is available, and to learn about their choices, so they can make good decisions for themselves and their families. Navigators in Texas must complete at least 20 hours of training (including training on privacy protection and security), pass a rigorous exam, demonstrate they don’t have a conflict of interest, and participate in weekly training sessions.
Texas' elected officials are standing strong behind navigators, as well. The following elected officials have released statements in support:
Additionally, the following statements in support of naviagors and the ACA were submitted to Congressman Issa. Perhaps Issa, along with Greg Abbott, Rick Perry, and all the other Texas Tea Party who feel compelled to engage in a permanent ACA witch-hunt, should gather more facts before they start to attack the Affordable Care Act again.
Locally, Los Barridos Unidos provides comprehensive primary care to 22,000 low income North Texans through 70,000 visits each year. Sixty-six (66%) percent of our patients are uninsured. This number is substantially less than 77% unsinsured just five years ago, but it is clearly still too high. Thanks to the concerted effort of our well training eligibility and enrollment staff, we are making headway in lessoning the numbers of uninsured.
We developed and printed 100,000 informational booklets and have held many events since August of this year to educate the families in our member institutions about how the exchange and financial assistance work for them...Many of our members now have successfully enrolled in an insurance program through the marketplace.
Navigator grantees have to follow standards..[including] extensive online training on Marketplace enrollment application, standards for community outreach, customer service and privacy and security standards. In addition to these requirements, all members of the CHIMES Consortium will conduct a level 1 criminal background check on all Navigators and require them to complete additional one and a half hour online HIPPA overview training and receive certification. Currently we have 145 certified Navigators that have completed all these requirements...
Thus far, the Consortium has reached out, educated and informed over 100,000 Texans who are eligible to enroll in the marketplace. Navigators have been present in the community and participated in over 852 events and answered thousands of phone calls directly from consumers.
Roughly 1 in 3 adults who aren’t seniors are uninsured, and many hard-working, low-income parents have no affordable options for health insurance. As a result, researchers say, many also won’t know about the options available to their children...Our state’s delay in accepting this expansion has left federal funds on the table and created a coverage gap for hundreds of thousands of working parents in Texas. A recent report sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund found just how costly it will be to continue to delay coverage expansion. Through 2022, the cost to Texas taxpayers of this delay will be over $9 billion.
We know our Navigators make a difference. For example, Cynthia N. is a single parent who worked with one of our Navigators, and after an hour, had opened a Marketplace account, chosen insurance, completed her application, and will have health insurance for the first time for her and her children starting January 1, 2014. Another client who had previously been denied health insurance coverage due to a pre-existing condition has completed her application which will provide her treatment in the future, as well as preventive services, thereby greatly improving her health. She will no longer have to miss several days of work due to an untreated chronic health condition.
Diane knew that she needed to get health insurance in 2014 or pay a fee, but she'd been reluctant to explore HealthCare.Gov because of all the negative press surrounding the website. In fact, she'd come to the library for assistance because she was concerned that HealthCare.Gov would cause her computer to crash if she accessed it from home.
With the assistance of a Navigator, Diane completed her online application. She received her eligibility determination within minutes. Diane was delighted to learn that she was eligible for a tax credit worth $354 per month to help make health insurance more affordable. She then used the comparison tool to learn more about plans available to her in the Health Insurance Marketplace...Within an hour of starting her application, Diane identified and enrolled in a plan that met [her] criteria. The monthly premium was $376, but after choosing to apply the tax credit to her premium, Diane discvoered that the premium would cost her just $22 per month.
Since inception of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, Texas seniors have already saved $421M on their prescriptions. In 2012 alone, 1,795,711 Texas seniors received free, life-saving tests for chronic diseases.
I retired in May, 2012, but thanks to a company benefit that was eliminated for all employees hired after January 1, 2002, fifteen months after I started with the company, I was able to retain the coverage for my wife and daughter after my retirement. My daughter will turn twenty-six in April and therefore the full ACA sign-up comes just in time to enable her to obtain coverage on her own, starting then, with no regard to any preexisting conditions. She signed up with no problems and we are thankful for this program.
With the same daily expenses to pay for but prospects for future pay being far lower than what I had grown accustomed to, I readied myself for another stint of being uninsured. And then, on October 1, open enrollment for Obamacare began...
Thankfully, the desperation of living on half my former salary coupled with an unexpected and ridiculously overpriced emergency room visit for stitches caused me to put aside all the warnings and check out Healthcare.gov. To my surprise, not only did I qualify for a subsidy, but I was able to find an insurance plan comparable in coverage and cost with the one I had under my previous employer. I signed up, received an email from the insurer the same day confirming my purchase, and about a week later held an insurance ID card in my hand.