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PNS Daily Newscast - October 20, 2017 


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Texas Advocates Organize to Assist with ACA Enrollments

As the federal government pulls money out of the Affordable Care Act, its advocates and volunteers are helping to publicize the program and assist people with enrollments. (Raedle/GettyImages)
As the federal government pulls money out of the Affordable Care Act, its advocates and volunteers are helping to publicize the program and assist people with enrollments. (Raedle/GettyImages)
October 13, 2017

AUSTIN, Texas – As the Trump administration moves to weaken the Affordable Care Act, advocacy groups in Texas and across the country are taking over the federal government's role in helping people get health coverage. A coalition known as "Cover Texas Now" is stepping in to publicize the upcoming enrollment period, and train volunteers to help people get health coverage.

Elizabeth Colvin, the program director of Foundation Communities, one of the Cover Texas Now groups, says their work has taken on a heightened sense of urgency this year.

"Cover Texas Now is important because there is so much misinformation because the federal government is not going to be doing any advertising, the state of Texas is not going to be doing any advertising, so the burden is falling on local groups to get the word out to everyone," she explains.

The federal government has shortened the enrollment period to just six weeks, from November 1 to December 15, cut an estimated 90 percent of the advertising funding and 40 percent of the budget for enrollment assistance.

President Donald Trump campaigned on repealing and replacing the ACA, but Congress has been unable to do so.

And, since the program is still in place for 2018, Colvin says a lot of people are confused.

"People assume that it doesn't exist, they think it's gone away, they think that plans will be unaffordable to them, they think that insurance companies have pulled out - and all of that is incorrect, for the most part," she says.

Laura Guerra-Cardus is the deputy director of the Children's Defense Fund in Texas, also part of the Cover Texas Now coalition. She says the state's refusal to expand Medicaid under the ACA makes enrolling individuals through the marketplace more important than ever.

"Texas has the highest rate of uninsured individuals in our country; we battle with the highest rate of uninsured children in our country," Guerra-Cardus states. "And the Affordable Care Act helped us reach more people in the shortest amount of time."

More information, including how to volunteer, is online at CoverTexasNow.org.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - TX