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Getting Millions Insured is Job #1 for New Health Coalition

September 19, 2011

FRANKFORT, Ky. - When it comes to getting more uninsured Americans health care coverage under the new federal law, the group's name says it all: Enroll America. The coalition of insurers, hospitals, doctors, consumer groups, pharmaceutical companies and the like, says the timing could not be more crucial, given the latest census numbers showing America's uninsured at close to 50 million - an all-time high.

Enroll America Executive Director Rachel Klein says its mission is to secure optimal enrollment in the new health care opportunities available in 2014.

"We will help health care stakeholders at the state level promote the best practices for enrollment, so that states adopt enrollment and renewal systems that are consumer-friendly and easy for people to navigate."

In 2014, the uninsured can get benefits through either sliding-scale tax credits they earn by buying health coverage through newly established marketplaces, or Medicaid expansion. Enroll America will also launch an advertising campaign to ensure that all Americans know about the coverage opportunities from federal health reform.

Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, says hospital emergency rooms bear witness to the poor health of uninsured patients, and hospitals absorb billions of dollars a year in non-compensated care - costs, he adds, that are passed along to private payers.

"Ensuring that people have the health care coverage they need will provide clear benefits, including better health, greater productivity and reduced cost burdens on private businesses and payers."

Roger Schwartz, executive branch liaison with the National Association of Community Health Centers, says 20 million patients benefit from the centers, which serve as medical homes for low-income and uninsured Americans at 8,000 sites nationwide. The new collaboration, he says, can only improve those numbers.

"We are, we believe, critical players in providing access to these new populations that will be covered under the Affordable Care Act, all of which is for naught if folks aren't enrolled in the programs."

In Kentucky, 640,000 go without health insurance. As health care reform calls for states to build their own insurance exchange or marketplace, Jodi Mitchell, executive director of Kentucky Voices for Health, says the Bluegrass State can take some cues from the new coalition.

"Kentucky Voices for Health looks forward to working with Enroll America to take these best practices and put them into reality, into what Kentucky is doing."

The Congressional Budget Office projects that more than 32 million Americans will gain access to coverage from health care reform. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that almost half of the uninsured do not know about the coverage options coming down the pike.

More information is available at www.EnrollAmerica.org.

Renee Shaw, Public News Service - KY