President Obama’s final State of the Union (SOTU) address tonight is a special one for the health center community. A representative from a Chicago area Community Health Center will be accompanying First Lady Michelle Obama in her guest box. Cedric Rowland is a passionate Lead Navigator at Near North Health Service Corporation (Near North), a health center which has served uninsured and underserved populations across the Chicagoland area for more than 50 years. He is passionate about connecting people to insurance coverage options under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As Lead Navigator, Rowland works with consumers to find the best plans available at a price they can afford. Affordable Care Act navigators help consumers across the country take advantage of the benefits of the landmark law. In addition to enrolling more than 500 consumers since the inception of the ACA, Rowland’s role in the ACA’s success can be seen in the story of Stephanie Lucas. Ms. Lucas suffers from diabetes and at one point did not qualify for Medicaid, but Rowland worked hard to help Lucas transition to a Marketplace plan that met her needs and let her continue seeing her doctor at a price she could afford. It is this story that drew the notice of the White House and resulted in his invitation to the SOTU, and no small amount of local media attention [see news story].
Thanks for your hard work and passion on behalf of the medically underserved and uninsured, Cedric. You make us proud.