Monday is the last day for the uninsured to start signing up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Anyone who hasn’t at least started the process of signing up by then will have no other way of doing so until November and will face a penalty. Bill Corr is Deputy Secretary with the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Bill Corr: “It’s important for people to sign up by then. If they don’t, it’ll be November before they have another enrollment period. If you signed up next November, you’d have insurance starting in January.”
The HHS estimates nearly 650,000 Alabamians are uninsured.
Corr: “And as of March 1st, about 55,000 had enrolled. Many of the individuals in Alabama who are uninsured, if they went to our website, they would learn that there’s financial assistance available to many of them.”
Corr says many people are getting plans for a hundred dollars or less per month. He also criticized Governor Robert Bentley and the Republican-led legislature for refusing to expand Medicaid in Alabama. He says the government pays 100 percent of the tab for 3 years, and 90 percent after that.
Corr: “That means that by not expanding Medicaid, the Governor and the legislature in Alabama are passing up $3.9 million every single day that could go towards providing health insurance through the Medicaid program. So we certainly would encourage the consideration of expanding Medicaid.”
Bentley says Alabama can’t afford to expand Medicaid when they’re having trouble paying for it now. Regardless, the decision has left thousands without access to coverage. APR's Ryan Vasquez highlighted the so-called "Medicaid gap" in a previous report. Corr says Alabama has the ability to get coverage for everyone who needs it.
Corr: “And that’s what I hope the leaders of Alabama will be focused on. This is not about politics. This is about getting every citizen the opportunity to stay healthy and to have their family with access to quality health care.”