Senators visit Access Health to push for signup

New Britain Herald

U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal visited Access Health CT on Main Street Friday to remind people that the deadline for securing health insurance through the exchange is on Dec. 22.

“The more we can raise awareness about the deadline, the better,” Blumenthal said. “Make it your New Year’s resolution to enroll, but do it next week.”

More than 5,000 people have signed up at the 10 Access Health locations in the state so far during the six-week enrollment period, said Access Health CEO James Wadleigh. More than 100,000 people have enrolled statewide, he said.

Access Health offers health care plans for people who either are self-employed or cannot get insurance through an employer. It offers subsidies for low-income workers.

This year’s enrollment period was cut in half as a result of Trump administration policies, Blumenthal and Murphy said.

The two listened to stories from service providers and residents about how important gaining insurance through Access Health has been for some people.

Jocelyn Lopez of the Community Health Center told the story of a man she recently helped who had been battling colon cancer but couldn’t afford his company’s health insurance. She was able to help him sign up for a plan through the exchange, that provided insurance at $92 a month and will cover the required medical tests to make sure his cancer hasn’t returned.

“Helping him enroll was very powerful for me,” she said.

Another woman told the senators that she had chronic migraines and neurological problems that required expensive medications but couldn’t get prescription coverage until she signed up with Access Health.

“Through the (national) Affordable Care Act, affordable plans were available to me,” said Gina Richards of Danbury. After getting the health care she needed, Richards started a photography business.

“It removed the financial barriers to start a business,” she said. “It brought tears to my eyes, and it still does.”

Murphy and Blumenthal wanted to hear the success stories so they could use the information to continue the fight against scrapping the health care program. The Trump administration not only cut the time period for enrollment in half but defunded marketing to make people aware that affordable health care was available, Murphy said.

“We’re still fighting in Washington for the Affordable Care Act,” he said.