The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation hosted a briefing which focused on the lessons, challenges and successes in Affordable Care Act (ACA) outreach and enrollment efforts from the perspective of three leading states — Maryland, Nevada and Oregon. The event also featured a Community Health Center perspective from the CEO of East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC), Manny Lopes (watch a web cast of the event). Lopes talked about the challenges of educating both staff and patients about their coverage options after Massachusetts embarked on health reform.
“We felt it was truly a team effort — that at any one point our patients would ask the front desk staff, their medical provider and nursing staff and we wanted to make sure that everyone was educated at some level appropriate to their position about what was coming,” he said. Lopes also described how EBNHC staff worked with patients on a one-on-one basis, noting how outreach and enrollment remains an ongoing effort even some 5 to 7 years after enactment. Some patients, for instance, experience breaks in coverage or their coverage status needs to be redetermined and direct assistance from EBNHC staff is required.
The Kaiser event also released a study which examined the lessons learned during the Massachusetts health reform. The study showed that assistance to low-income people under the national expansion will need to be ongoing to ensure the success of the ACA. Other key findings include:
- Assistance with paperwork and enrollment in health plans is not a one-time matter but must be provided at all stages in order to ensure continued coverage.
- Immediate access to enrollment boosts the effectiveness of the outreach.
- Even after the health reform is fully mature, there will be a need for ongoing enrollment assistance and one-on-one help.
Lopes was joined by other speakers from Maryland, Oregon and Nevada, which moved quickly to establish a state-based marketplace after the ACA was enacted. Each of these three states took varied approaches to starting out, as detailed in this issue brief, “Getting into Gear for 2014, Insights from Three States Leading the Way in Preparing for Outreach and Enrollment.”