North Country Residents Enroll for Health Insurance

Thousands of Other Granite State Residents Left with few Options without Medicaid Expansion

Last Saturday, approximately 50 North Country residents took steps to get quality, affordable health insurance, some for the very first time. They attended the most recent of a series of Affordable Care Act (ACA) market place enrollment fairs sponsored by the State Employee’s Association (SEA). The event took place at White Mountains Community College in Berlin, an area of the state that has been especially hard hit since the great recession.

“The turnout was fantastic,” said Joe Cicirelli, a certified application counselor and SEA employee. “Many families enrolled in plans and everyone left with something tangible. From establishing a Healthcare.gov account to receiving an eligibility determination, all attendees moved forward in the process. The SEA is proud to have a role in making the ACA successful in NH.”

Almost unbelievably, a number of individuals were unable to obtain coverage because they earn too little to qualify for subsidies for ACA Marketplace plans. “Unfortunately, because the New Hampshire Senate Republicans refused to compromise and expand Medicaid, we were forced to tell our neighbors who were below the poverty line, that there were no affordable coverage options available to them.”

Last week, during a special session of the Legislature, the state Senate did not deliver a deal for expanding Medicaid to an additional 50,000 low-income adults, despite leaders on both sides of the political aisle saying they remain willing and eager to reach a compromise.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted on three amendments to its original bill, ultimately approving one, 13-11 along party lines, before tabling the bill in the early afternoon. Many expect the issue will come up again during the next legislative session that will begin in January 2014.

The State Employees’ Association of NH (SEA), working with community partners, has been hosting Affordable Care Act enrollment fairs around the state. The fairs are designed to help educate SEA members and the general public about how to access the new health care options. SEA members are moving forward and having worker-to-worker conversations, hosting events, and helping working people access the information about what their new options are. Attendees may receive assistance completing the application process.

While the rollout of the Affordable Care Act has clearly not gone as smoothly as one would like, the SEA remains dedicated to its plan to make sure all Granite Staters have access to quality, affordable health care. While most SEA members have insurance through their employers, thousands of part-time state workers and adjunct professors must purchase their own.

To learn more about enrollment, contact Chris Porter at cporter@seiu1984.org. For information about upcoming enrollment fairs open to the public, contact Brian Hawkins at bhawkins@seiu1984.org.

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