Essex News Daily

Communities Prepare For Second Open Enrollment Of The Affordable Care Act

Essex News Daily — Monday, October 6, 2014

By: Chris Sykes — Staff Writer

ORANGE — Following the first open enrollment session of the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," which officials from Enroll America and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have called a "great success," a second enrollment session is scheduled to begin Saturday, Nov. 15.

Justine Ceserano, the state director of Get Covered America — a national campaign of Enroll America that educates consumers about the benefits of health coverage and the insurance available through the Affordable Care Act — said localized data released Sept. 22 will allow the organization and its partners to zoom in on what enrollment looks like on the community level in New Jersey, in preparation for the next enrollment period.

"It's great news that more than 112,691 New Jerseyans across these (10) counties got covered through the Health Insurance Marketplace, but our work here is far from over," said Ceserano on Sept. 22.

"With the next open enrollment period right around the corner, we'll be working nonstop with our partners, like Centers for Family Services, New Jersey Citizen Action, New Jersey Hospital Association, the Orange Navigators Project and many other members of the New Jersey for Health Care Coalition, to make sure that New Jerseyans get covered and stay covered. We also have recently expanded our outreach to include more areas of Atlantic and Cape May counties, to ensure that we bring information to residents in communities where there is a demonstrated need for health care support in the South Jersey region."

Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren, the featured speaker at an Enroll America event at both the Orange Public Library and the St. Matthew AME Church earlier in the year, said he was glad to help and would support the next open enrollment session as well.

"The response to the work of Enroll America has been tremendous," said Warren on Tuesday, Sept. 23. "We hope that their valuable service continues in areas like Orange, where the health insurance deserts can become prevalent."

Enroll America is an independent nonprofit organization that is also the nation's leading health care enrollment coalition with a mission to inform consumers about the new health coverage options and how to enroll in them. According to the organization, in 10 of the 13 counties that accounted for 90.4 percent of enrollment in New Jersey, Get Covered America had volunteers working at a grassroots level to engage with the uninsured. The 112,691 New Jerseyans who were enrolled in health care during the first enrollment period broke down as follows: 20,144 in Bergen County; 15,443 in Middlesex County; 14,615 in Essex County; 13,428 in Hudson County; 10,486 in Monmouth County; 10,167 in Union County; 9,323 in Passaic County; 8,222 in Ocean County; 5,502 in Mercer County, and 5,361 in Atlantic County.

"It's definitely great news," said Irvington Municipal Councilwoman Charnette Frederic on Sept. 23. "We are behind our president 100 percent with the Affordable Care Act. So we're looking forward to helping out again in November."

Frederic was personally involved in the effort in her township to spread the word about the Affordable Care Act. Like Warren, she said she would be more than happy to help out again, once the second enrollment session begins.

During the first enrollment session, Frederic worked with numerous organizations and individuals to host two Affordable Care Act open enrollment events at the Irvington Public Library on Saturday, March 8 and Saturday, March 15. These included: the Jamaican Organization of New Jersey, Jamaican Nurses Association, the Caribbean Medical Mission, Elmwood United Presbyterian Church, EXIT Platinum Realty, Grenadian American of New Jersey, Guyana Heritage Foundation, Happy Hands Foundation, Help Jamaica Medical Mission, Hispanics for Progress, the Oranges and Maplewood NAACP, Valley Healthcare Services, the township of Irvington, the Coalition of Caribbean American Commission, and Get Covered America.

The same organizations also partnered with East Orange General Hospital, East Orange 3rd Ward Councilman Ted Green and other grassroots groups in East Orange to host an Affordable Care Act open enrollment event at Campus High School in East Orange on March 22.

"One of the key things that we know is that, in the Caribbean community, there was a lot of false information being spread," said Frederic. "There had been some misinformation out there, where people were charging people to give them information about the ACA, and we wanted to dispel that. So bringing people in to get the right information was great to help the people out. We worked together to get the word out there, to bring the right information to the community."

For more information on Enroll America and its efforts, visit EnrollAmerica.org or www.GetCoveredAmerica.org.

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