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Events this week aim to educate the valley on ‘Obamacare’ as the law starts to take effect

October 14th, 2013 | by Victoria Pelham | Comments

As some of the key portions of health care reform start to take shape, many residents across the Coachella Valley are confused about what the Affordable Care Act will mean for them.

That’s no surprise—the same is true across the state, with just 15 percent of California voters considering themselves very knowledgeable on the law, according to an August Field Poll.

But health organizations and community leaders in the region are working quickly to change that, especially as the timeline for the changes draws near. The state’s new insurance marketplace, Covered California, is already open for enrollment, starting Oct. 1. It will offer insurance plans with standardized benefits through the ACA and no denial of coverage for preexisting conditions. The exchange will also include tax credits and subsidies to make the now-mandatory insurance more affordable and bring the millions of uninsured into coverage, many for the first time. The plans will go into effect Jan. 1. That same day California’s welfare Medi-Cal insurance will be expanded.

Valley clinics have hired outreach and enrollment assisters and applied to be certified enrollment entities for the ACA. The Desert Healthcare District has committed up to $650,000 for ACA-related efforts in partnership with the California Endowment, which has agreed to $500,000 for education on the health care law. And hospitals have launched phone line to field questions and worked with consultants to determine its impact in the valley.

This week:

On Wednesday a “Healthy Generations Resource Fair” will be held at the Mecca Family Service Center connecting almost 100 groups focused on well-being with east valley community members, including Borrego Health/First 5, the Alzheimer’s Association, Braille Institute, Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo, the Inland Empire Health Plan, Planned Parenthood and others.  A big focus this year is the Covered California booth, with representatives from the new ACA exchange there to educate on health care reform and coverage in a region where hundreds of people line up overnight for free clinics because of limited health care access.

When: Wednesday, Oct. 16. 2-6 p.m.

Where: Mecca Family Service Center & Community Health Clinic – Courtyard. 91-275 66th Ave., Mecca.

–Information from Riverside County DPSS

Also this week Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert, is hosting a town hall on Thursday on the implementation of the ACA along with the Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce and representatives from Covered California. The event is intended to give the leaders a chance to answer questions on the law and the exchange including eligibility, availability of financial help, coverage and expanded Medi-Cal.

When: Thursday, Oct. 17. 5-6:30 p.m.

Where: CSU, San Bernardino. Oliphant Auditorium. 37-500 Cook Street, Palm Desert, CA.

Free admission and parking.

–Information from Asm. Nestande’s office release.

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