“Get Signed Up Now!”
Doggett highlights enrollment deadline for Affordable Care Act
By Michael King,
2:00PM, Mon. Jan. 30, 2017
Austin/San Antonio Congressman Lloyd Doggett visited Foundation Communities Monday morning, reminding Austinites that the deadline for enrolling in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) is Tuesday, Jan. 31, at 12 midnight. Despite the debate in Washington, new enrollees need to act now in order to have insurance in 2017.
Elizabeth Colvin, director of Foundation Communities' Insure Central Texas project, first pointed out that President Donald Trump’s executive order (instructing federal agencies to reduce the impact of the Affordable Care Act) did not, in fact, repeal the law, which remains in place. Austinites needing health insurance can still enroll in the program – either in person at one of Foundation Communities' enrollment sites or online – through Tuesday. In-person enrollment is available today until 7pm, and tomorrow from 9am-7pm.
The organization has two sites for enrollment: 5900 Airport and 2600 W. Stassney. No appointment is necessary – indeed, while the press conference took place, numerous counselors were working with clients to complete their enrollment in health insurance. More information is available online.
Doggett reiterated Colvin’s message that people need to enroll today or tomorrow, and not to confuse the D.C. debate over Obamacare with immediate loss of access for insurance. “I would be the first to admit that the ACA has shortcomings and flaws that need to be fixed,” he said, noting particularly that he is working to lower the cost of prescription drugs under the ACA. “But people need to remember that it is so much better than what we had before,” when coverage could be denied for pre-existing conditions, and so many people had no health insurance at all.
“If you enroll for 2017,” Doggett, “that is a contract with the insurer that cannot be taken away.”
Concerning the threats by Republican officials to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, Doggett cited news reports reflecting that Republicans are divided over any plans for replacement, and that they are reluctant to remove popular benefits of the law – e.g., coverage for pre-existing conditions and for children through age 26 under family plans. He cited the experience of his own family members, who were denied coverage before the ACA, and reiterated that the law protects all Americans, not just those who acquired insurance under Obamacare.
“It’s easier to pass ‘repeal’ votes against ‘Obamacare’ because you don’t like the ‘Obama’ part,” Doggett told reporters, “than it is to design a replacement that won’t deny coverage to tens of millions of our neighbors – not new coverage, but taking away a right they already have,” because they had the foresight to sign up under the law.
“It’s much more difficult to design a law that maintains coverage for those who now have it,” he continued, “or to fulfill President Trump’s statement that he wants a law that provides health insurance for everybody.”
Doggett introduced renowned local musician John Chipman, who described his own experience before and after Obamacare. He and his wife had serious health problems that would not have been covered by health insurance prior to the law requiring coverage of pre-existing conditions. “Because of those conditions, we would not have been able to get health insurance. [My two children] are also covered. The pre-existing condition coverage is so important … and it doesn’t just cover people under the ACA, but also those who get insurance through their employers."
“Any talk of repeal of this law, to my mind, is absolute insanity,” concluded Chipman. “We need to do everything we can to put pressure on Washington, D.C., to make sure they take care of Americans the way they are supposed to.”
Doggett summed up the immediate situation: “If you don’t get here by 7pm tomorrow night, or you don’t get online by midnight tomorrow, you lose something really important – and that is the security and peace of mind of knowing that you and your family have affordable health insurance.”