A number of organizations came together on Tuesday morning to avowedly declare their support for the Affordable Care Act, a legislation mandating Americans to obtain health insurance, and to provide residents with sign up information.
“We will not go backwards,” said Assad Akhter, deputy chief of staff for Bill Pascrell, congressman representing New Jersey’s 9th District. Akhter, speaking on behalf of Pascrell, made it clear that the government shut down will not deter the forward march of universal healthcare. “What is the reason why the government should be shut down over this law? What is being done other than to enroll uninsured Americans?”
Many uninsured Americans are looking forward to signing up for health care. “It’s been about four years since I’ve been insured,” said Nancy Vasquez, a mother of two, who is looking forward to being insured under the new law. Vasquez said, every time there is a minor health issue, like when she has a chest pain, she is fearful that it may be something worse because of her family history which includes diabetes and heart disease. Without insurance she is unable to visit a doctor to figure out what’s causing the pain in the chest.
Vasquez said at times she waits for her payday to visit a doctor, but when the ailment ceases to bother her, she simply decides not to go. “Sometimes I have to wait for my pay day,” said Vasquez.
She is not alone, in Passaic County there are thousands of uninsured individuals and families, majority of them in Paterson. “Passaic County has over 60,000 people who will benefit from this,” said Diego Arias, speaking for New Jersey Citizen Action, one of the many organizations playing a role in doing outreach for the new law.
“It’s our job to educate, to dispel the myths and rumors that so many people have heard, and to help our constituents navigate the new marketplace,” said Leah Dade, executive director for the Paterson Alliance, a collection of non-profit organizations in the city. Dade estimates that the vast majority of uninsured folks reside in the city.
Milly Silva, who is running for lieutenant governor of New Jersey and the vice president of 1199 SEIU, a healthcare workers union, spoke saying, her organization and others will make sure “each and every New Jerseyan knows the market place has opened.” There is no physical exchange or marketplace for healthcare, instead it is online on HealthCare.gov, where the State’s uninsured are encouraged to visit to purchase insurance.
Arias said, there are five federal navigators, and a list of organizations engaging in outreach to sign up as many as possible. Arias’ organization has setup a hotline of its own to sign up residents; he encouraged individuals without insurance to dial: 1-888-654-3893 if they are unable to access or signup through the online marketplace.