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Local advocates, doctors express concern, confusion ahead of open enrollment

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Communities in Indiana are expressing concern and confusion one day before the start of this year’s open enrollment for the health insurance marketplace.

“We need basic healthcare for everybody and when we start undermining it for the people who can’t afford it; we’re losing out for everybody,” said Dr. James Gingerich of the Vista Community Health Center in Goshen. “Our whole community suffers because of it.”

Vista aims to go above and beyond to make sure its patients are covered.

 “We have sliding fee scales, a variety of other things to make sure people have access to that,” said Dr. Gingrich. “And we have some collaborative arrangements with the hospital and specialists to help expand the range of services that are available.”

Dr. Gingrich says the problem is it’s not comprehensive.

He says having insurance guarantees complete health care.

And they’re looking at a lot of folks from underserved communities.

“As community health centers go we have one of the lowest rates of Medicaid and highest rates of uninsured people right here in the state,” he said.

Insurance nowadays, according to Dr. Gingrich, is too complicated.

And local health care advocates say, with efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act happening in Washington D.C., getting covered is becoming even harder.

“By slashing the cost of reduction subsidies, by failing to make monies available for navigators, persons who in prior years have been out in the community helping people sign up,” said Lisa Casey, a volunteer for Northern Indiana Community Coalition for Health Care (NICCHC).

Advocates with the nonpartisan group NICCHC say the Trump Administration has also slashed funding to advertising the marketplace by 70 percent.

Also, the open enrollment period has been shortened this year from three months to 45 days.

“There’s some exhaustion among people in the community who have active to save the healthcare law and now we’re trying to get people enrolled and get the word out that the law is the law,” said Casey.

In light of less advertisement on the national scale, the group will be posting fliers around town to let people know of about the new deadline.

They’ll also provide navigators for folks who need help using the healthcare.gov website.

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