Itâ€™s hard to believe that less than 6 years ago, Americans could be denied health coverage due to a preexisting condition, women were often charged more than men for their insurance premiums simply because of their gender, and preventive care, including annual wellness visits and personalized prevention plans, was not free. By enacting the Affordable Care Act in March of 2010, President Obama put an end to these, and many other practices, ushering in a new era for our nationâ€™s health care system.
As we approach the sixth anniversary of the lawâ€™s enactment, nearly 18 million Americans have gained health care coverage and this third Open Enrollment is record-breaking. The uninsured rate has also dropped by 45 percent, making this our nationâ€™s lowest uninsured level ever. This figure reflects, in large part, the hard work and leadership on part of state and local elected officials across the country in getting their communities informed and enrolled. But still, in communities across the country, 10.5 million people eligible for Marketplace coverage remain uninsured. This is why our intergovernmental partners across the nation have been relentless in their efforts to get their constituents connected to healthcare:
- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has opened many city facilities and libraries to host regular enrollment events with licensed healthcare navigators.
- New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has made ACA resources available on the city website and participated in press to help get the word out. He has also challenged barbers and hairstylists to connect their customers to free, in-person enrollment assistance.
- In Houston, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services formed a partnership with the City and the Health Department to provide families and children with enrollment reminders.
- In California, Mayor Robert Garcia of Long Beach has recruited community organizations and health plans to undertake large canvasing effort in areas with high uninsured subsidy eligible populations. They will be going door to door with a consistent outreach message to collect interest and lead cards, and organizations will collaborate on follow up to assist those eligible to enroll in health coverage.
- In Kansas City, MO, Mayor Sly James, among other things, has recorded a PSA which will play 333 times throughout January.
- Arizona State Representative Eric Meyer worked with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Regional office to develop a robocall script and template email for all Democratic members of the Assembly to use with their constituents. They encourage attendance at enrollment events, connect consumers to assisters, and provide key information about deadlines and how to find assistance.
These and many other state and local elected officials have made tremendous efforts to reach out to their constituents ahead of the January 31st deadline for this third Open Enrollment. In November, we announced the White House Healthy Communities Challenge toengage key communities with large numbers or high percentages of uninsured in states across the country where strong federal, state and community collaboration can have a meaningful impact on reaching the uninsured.
The Challenge involves 20 communities competing to enroll the most uninsured as possible. At the end of the enrollment period we will release the tallies of new Marketplace signups in each community.The President will also visit the winning community to congratulate them and hear about their efforts during Open Enrollment.
Today, we released the second update to the leaderboard for this challenge:
We engaged City and County officials in these 20 great American communities because getting our friends and neighbors the healthcare and peace of mind they need is ultimately a community issue. We have already seen the kinds of innovative tactics, good-hearted competition with a dose of trash-talking, and genuine passionthat America’s local officials are known for in every one of these twenty communities.Congratulations to those that have jumped to the top of the leaderboard, but don’t get too comfortable: the rest are coming for you.