White House Advisor Speaks In Tulsa, Encouraging To Enroll In ACA
TULSA, Oklahoma - With less than two weeks from the Affordable Care Act enrollment deadline, the clock is ticking for Oklahomans to sign up. Only 25,000 Oklahomans have signed up, that's a small number, considering 700,000 Oklahomans are uninsured.
An advisor for the White House Office of Public Engagement is speaking at a town hall meeting at the Equality Center at 621 East 4th Street, to make a final push to get people enrolled.
We asked him how the Obama administration feels about the low healthcare enrollment numbers.
"I think we feel good, generally, about how the numbers look across the country. We just hit 5 million enrolled and that's a big number. That's 5 million that have healthcare that didn't, so, we're going to keep working," said Gautam Raghavan.
Working to enroll all Americans, but only 3.5-percent of uninsured Oklahomans are now enrolled under the Affordable Care Act. Raghavan said he's at the Oklahoma Equality Center, empowering community members to get more people enrolled.
"Those trusted voices are the ones that are going to matter to get people access," Raghavan said.
His emphasis is on the LGBT community, one of many groups slow to enroll.
"A lot of folks just don't know what the options are and they don't know that there's financial assistance available to them," said Raghavan.
Marketplace navigator Donna Orban said misinformation, and political bias, are causing Oklahoma's low enrollment numbers.
"No matter how anyone feels about it personally, it's here, so let's deal with it the best we can," Orban said.
But even some wanting to enroll, can't. Kellan Baker's job focuses on health policy, he said many in Oklahoma are below poverty level and the state doesn't have a Medicaid expansion to insure them.
"There are going to be a lot of LGBT people, as well as many other folks, who are going to be left out of an opportunity to get coverage," Baker said.
"We know we have a lot of folks that are living in poverty, so certainly that's a concern for us," said Raghavan.
A concern, he says, is a work in progress.
"It'll take a while, so that's why we have to do this work every day," Raghavan said.
The town hall is at the Equality Center from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
The deadline to enroll is March 31st and there could be penalties if you do not enroll. Once the deadline passes, the next time you can enroll is in November.