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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Healthcare Coverage Enrollment Extended One Week — African American Health Alliance Urges All to Finish Signing Up


Dunkirk, MD — Didn’t finish signing up for coverage? The Department of Health and Human Services has extended the deadline from February 15 to February 22. HHS has announced in its Healthcare.gov blog that those who experienced longer than normal wait times at the Marketplace Call Center and/or technical issues on HealthCare.gov they have until February 22 to finish signing up.

The African American Health Alliance (AAHA) and the Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Coalition (REHDC) welcome the extension, congratulate those who enrolled and urge those who could not finish to do so before the extension runs out.

What is most important is for the Administration, Congress and the states to work together to do what is necessary to help people get the coverage they need. AAHA emphasizes the importance of having healthcare coverage in its “Get Covered Stay Covered Conversation with Dr. Joycelyn Elders the 15th U.S. Surgeon General”. That full conversation is available in audio and transcript at
www.africanamericanhealthalliance.org. There is also an enrollment PSA there done by children; it too gives a uniquely insightful perspective on coverage.

The opportunity to finish enrolling is very important: allows consumers to get coverage and prevents the penalty. Just a few days remain to finish signing up; go to HealthCare.gov or call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. Need help; trained navigators and assisters are still
available to help. Also, help is available in 150 languages. Find a plan that fits your needs and budget. Financial assistance is available to those who qualify. To find in-person assistance in your local community, go to http://localhelp.healthcare.gov. Lucy Perez, MD reflects: “The Affordable Care Act says to me that my country values me; enrollment reminds me that I must be my own priority.”

HHS Secretary Burwell reports that 11.4 million people signed up or re-enrolled in the Health Insurance Marketplace. President Obama says, “It gives you some sense of how hungry people were out there for affordable, accessible health insurance. And that’s really the top-line message: The Affordable Care Act is working.” Burwell also reports that, “In the final day of Open Enrollment season this year, more new consumers signed up for health coverage than on any day this Open Enrollment or last.”

AAHA and REHDC believe that the extension makes good health, economic and national security sense. A healthier America is a stronger America. One can only imagine the frustration and disappointment potential enrollees must have felt when glitches, long wait times, and other adverse conditions stopped them from enrolling. The next Marketplace get covered challenge will be as it relates to penalties and taxes. Some in Congress have contacted HHS in this regard. Fredette West, head of AAHA and REHDC, says, “As a breast cancer survivor and a long-time health advocate, having access to quality affordable health care that is culturally and linguistically appropriate and accessible when and where you need it is a must. Having the opportunity to finish signing up is a matter of life and health.”

This is just the second ACA enrollment as more is learned responsive adjustments will need to be made. “I want everybody to know that everyone needs health insurance coverage. Nothing is more important than your health,” says Joycelyn Elders, MD. In response to long wait times, system challenges and other conditions, a number of states have extended their deadline. Many have announced far longer extensions than that by the federal government.

About the African American Health Alliance
The African American Health Alliance is a nonprofit organization. Both AAHA and REHDC are working to help eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in an effort to improve overall quality of life for all. Access to quality affordable care that is culturally and linguistically appropriate is critical to that goal. For information on the Health Alliance, visit www.africanamericanhealthalliance.org.

AAHA Board Members and Co-Chairs:
M. Joycelyn Elders, MD, 15th U.S. Surgeon General and Lucy Perez, MD, President and CEO, The Cave Institute, Past President, NMA; Members: Clive Callender, MD, Professor of Surgery, College of Medicine, Howard University, Director Howard University Hospital Transplant Center; Fredette West, Director, African American Health Alliance; Rev. Fred Williams, President and CEO SYF Associates; Allan S. Noonan, MD, MPH, Founding Dean, School of Community Health and Policy, Morgan State University, Assistant SG (RET), U.S. Public Health Service.

Fredette West
African American Health Alliance
301-576-0845 or 202-215-3100