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On World AIDS Day, New Mexico activists say more money is needed for prevention; ND farmers still navigate corporate land-ownership policy maze; Unpaid caregivers in ME receive limited financial grants.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken urges Israel to protect civilians amid Gaza truce talks, New York Rep. George Santos defends himself as his expected expulsion looms and CDC director warns about respiratory illness as flu season begins.

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Congress has iced the Farm Bill, but farmer advocates argue some portions are urgent, the Hoosier State is reaping big rewards from wind and solar, and opponents react to a road through Alaska's Brooks Range, long a dream destination for hunters and anglers.

Texas' ACA Signups Almost Match Last Year’s Enrollment

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017   

AUSTIN, Texas – With the help of a coalition of consumer and faith-based groups, 1.1 million Texans have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act for 2018.

The Cover Texas Now coalition stepped in after the Trump administration eliminated most of the funds for signup assistance and cut the open enrollment period in half.

Bee Moorhead, director of the faith-based group Texas Impact, says groups like hers, which is part of the coalition, helped people overcome many of the roadblocks to obtain subsidized coverage in the federal marketplace.

"It really is a pretty big project and so, it's pretty impressive for Texans that, even with such a short enrollment period, we were able to come so close to matching last year's enrollment numbers," she states.

About 1.2 million Texans enrolled last year.

Though this year's deadline was Dec. 15, people in counties affected by Hurricane Harvey have until Sunday, Dec. 31, to enroll, so Moorhead says final numbers could be higher.

Nationwide, almost 9 million people signed up in the 39 states that use the federal marketplace.

Numbers are still pending for states that manage their own programs.

While she is proud that the two-dozen groups in the Cover Texas Now coalition were able to boost coverage, Moorhead says she doesn't want the government to think it can always count on private sector volunteers.

"Going forward, we need to have an understanding that the job of the faith community is to build community and to be a connector for people to the public institutions that are there to serve them, not to displace those institutions," she states.

And despite the enrollment numbers, she says Texas in 2018 will continue to have the highest rate of uninsured people in the country.

"It is heartbreaking to the faith communities in the state that so many Texans don't get the health care they need because they don't have health insurance,” she says. “We've been the worst state since they started keeping data about it."

Moorhead adds people needing marketplace coverage will continue to face uncertainty, as Congressional Republicans have vowed to continue efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.




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