Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Private push begun to enroll Arkansans in new insurance programs

Posted By on Tue, Sep 9, 2014 at 6:20 AM

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The legislature, thanks to Nate Bell, attempted to stifle word getting out about the expanded health insurance coverage options available thanks to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Now some private groups are picking up the slack.

The legislature prohibited state agencies from spending money publicizing and helping people through the signup process. A new group, Arkansans for Coverage, will provide education about health insurance options and guidance for people trying to navigate the system. From the release:

“Health coverage is important for Arkansans families,” says Rich Huddleston, executive director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF), one of the organizations taking a leadership role in AFC. “Coverage provides economic security and it helps people access the preventive care they need in order to stay healthy. But in order for Arkansans to be aware of and enroll in new, affordable options in Arkansas, they first need to know it exists. That’s why effective outreach and public education is so important.”

Huddleston said people who had help during enrollment generally got the information they needed, bu the process is complex.

Since the legislature voted to end that kind of outreach, AFC will try to provide that kind of effort,” Huddleston says.

Joining the Advocates in the program are  the Arkansas Hospital Association, the Arkansas Interfaith Alliance, the Arkansas Minority Health Commission Consortium, Partners for Inclusive Communities, and Community Health Centers of Arkansas.

The new organization has a Facebook page.

The Darragh Foundation, on whose board I sit, provided $300,000 toward the effort to continue outreach efforts to help people get insurance coverage. The state had been spending $7-$8 million on education and outreach.
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