Not only are the reports of Obamacare’s death premature— in Connecticut, the health care insurance effort is thriving. But now the people who make it happen have to dance twice as fast to keep it that way.
The state agency in charge of carrying out Obamacare — aka the Affordable Care Act, which expanded Medicaid and offers insurance through an exchange to uninsured people who make too much for Medicaid—is called Access Health CT. For five years it has earned a reputation for signing people up for the program more effectively than its counterparts in other states. It usually has a three-month annual enrollment period in which to do that.
Declaring he wants to weaken Obamacare, President Donald Trump has authorized his administration to cut back on marketing the program. And it has shortened the annual enrollment period.
Connecticut’s Access Health has only seven weeks this year to sign up people, as opposed to the usual three months.
The seven-week race began a week ago. One week in, the agency so far is on pace with last year’s effort, in which it enrolled 110,000 people into private insurance plans, according to Access Health CEO Jim Wadleigh.
“We are cautiously optimistic” that it can keep up that pace, Wadleigh said Wednesday during an appearance on WNHH radio’s “Dateline New Haven” program.
To get there, the agency has made changes this year to try to sign up ore people faster, Wadleigh said:
• It has opened 10 offices throughout the state for people to come register. It previously had just two. The New Haven office is at 2 Howe St.
• It has improved its website, making it easier both to sign up and to find out information about the available plans (including which doctors are covered).
• It has hired a three-person outreach team to work year-round. Wadleigh has been criss-crossing the state, meeting with local elected officials as well as church leaders to enlist their help in getting the word out.
Between a quarter and third of all Connecticut residents either obtain insurance or get help signing up for the expanded Medicaid program through Access Health, Wadleigh said.
Connecticut’s agency has weathered the D.C. fights over Obamacare storms over the past five years better than some other states in part by planning ahead and in part by achieving independence. It doesn’t release on the federal or even state government for its budget. Its $30 million budget comes completely from fees from the insurance companies that participate in the program.
Click here to find out more about Access Health and sign up for Obamacare.
Click on the above audio file or the below Facebook Live video to listen to the full interview with Jim Wadleigh on WNHH FM.