By Wendy Holdren
West Virginians for Affordable Health Care hosted a training seminar Thursday at the Beckley Dream Center for state agencies to learn more about the Affordable Care Act, who qualifies and how they can enroll.
WVAHC Executive Director Perry Bryant and Southern Regional Coordinator Doris Selko were on hand to answer questions and provide resources.
“We are training a lot of different agencies and interested people in how to assist people in the enrollment process that starts Oct. 1,” Selko said.
“We’re actually looking at non-paid people who would go out and help find the people who are going to qualify.”
She said 78 percent of people who are going to qualify for benefits don’t know it, so her organization wants people to go out and find them.
“We also want people who can give them general knowledge on how to get to the enrollment places — online, the 800-number, paper application, but most people want help by sitting down talking to somebody. We want to make sure the people know how to get that kind of help and how to get to where they need to be to get the help they want.”
She said because Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin agreed to the Medicaid expansion, anybody that falls under 138 percent of the poverty level will qualify for Medicaid.
It’s a simple process, Selko said. Applicants just have to know their family size and income and if they fall under that 138 percent, that information would go to Medicaid.
“When you get into the qualified health plans, then you’re looking at different insurance companies in the marketplace, different deductibles, different co-pays, things like that. We’re not trying to train anyone in that, but what we’re really trying to do is get community people who can set up meetings and set up referrals who know where the navigators and in-person assisters and the DHHR offices are, where the community health centers are and be able to get that information out there.”
She said a host of representatives were at the training, from family resource networks, to community action agencies, even faith-based leaders and medical professionals.
“It’s absolutely all over the board, but the one thing that brings them together is that they generally work with a lot of people who are low income. Very hard-working, low income people who don’t have access to health insurance right now will have access to it Jan. 1 when the plans go into effect, but need to be enrolled before then in order to get it.”
One attendee, a pastor at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church in Hillsboro in Pocahontas County, came to learn more.
“My wife works at the medical school in Lewisburg and she sent me a link about it,” Christopher Scott said.
“I thought it would be a really good thing because Pocahontas County is a place where there is a lot of health shortages and people are not as clued in to what’s happening around the new health care law.”
He said he sees many people in their early to mid-60s who are dealing with health problems that he wouldn’t expect until their 70s and 80s.
“The health care disparity and the problems they’re dealing with are really, really alarming to me. Even though it’s a really conservative area and I think there are a lot of knee-jerk resistance to the ACA provisions, I think it’s really helpful for a lot of people and I think a lot of people qualify that don’t know that they qualify, either for Medicaid or for these subsidies under the new law.”
He said he learned a lot of specifics about the ACA and he is excited to share that information with his community.
“So as a person of faith, being involved in the community and knowing what people in the community are struggling with is really important, so that’s why I’m here.”
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