Gov. Deval Patrick is putting his political weight and machine behind making health reform succeed. Just got this on my AOL email account:
(posted by John McDonough)
Massachusetts is leading the nation with our bold effort to expand affordable health care to all. For too long, we witnessed too many of our friends and neighbors go without the basic coverage they need. For too long, many of us fortunate enough to have coverage have felt the stress of being one health crisis away from losing our insurance. I’m proud that we here in Massachusetts have the courage to face these challenges. Our new health care law is an excellent first step.
July 1 marks the beginning of the next phase of this historic effort. Residents without coverage will have a five-month grace period, starting July 1, to enroll in a plan. That means that now is the time to do everything we can to get the word out to those who still need to be covered. That is why I am asking everyone to step up and participate by spreading the word across the state. We need to reach the people who need insurance. They need to know about the new law and the more affordable and comprehensive insurance options for them, and we need to help them sign up for subsidized coverage if they’re eligible.
I’m happy to report that already more than 130,000 people now have health insurance as a result of our reform efforts—people like Gabe F. of Cambridge who is now able to afford insurance because the new plans are far less expensive, or Judy M. of Lowell who found the Health Connector through Google® and thus an easy solution to her expiring COBRA insurance, or Joe R. who went without health insurance for six months despite chronic nerve pain and now has coverage and is receiving help from the state to pay for it.
We should applaud the efforts of the remarkable coalition of religious leaders, businesses, labor organizations, insurers, medical providers, consumer advocates, policy experts, and elected officials who are continuing to work together to move our system in a better direction. However, we still have a long way to go before anyone can or should claim victory. There are still many people who have yet to enroll, which means that everyday too many of our neighbors go without the ready access to the critical health services they need. Identifying and reaching the people who don’t have health insurance and convincing them to sign up for a new plan is no easy task—one made especially difficult by the fact that so many of these people simply don’t know about the new options available to them.
Fortunately, the new law was designed to give residents time to learn about the new plans. July 1 is the day when the requirement that each individual have health insurance goes into effect. After this date, residents will have five months to find out about the new plans that are now available and enroll. The Boston Globe has an excellent Q & A on the specifics here. So please, if anyone you know doesn’t have health insurance, tell them to call the state’s Health Connector at 1-877-MA-ENROLL (623-6765) or visit http://www.mahealthconnector.org to find out about the new options and to sign up for health care.
Making sure all residents have health insurance is the right thing to do, and you can help make that happen by doing some outreach in your own community. The website http://www.masshealthreform.org is filled with information and ideas about getting organized and reaching out. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about how you can make a difference.
During the campaign you checked back in, not just to make a difference in your own lives, but your communities’ as well. That commitment didn’t end on Election Day. We have the unique ability to work with people–to organize and reach across the state. In this instance we can touch real people’s lives and help them get the health coverage they need. That is what civic engagement is all about.