Montgomery preparing for Affordable Care Act enrollment -- Gazette.Net


With less than two months until enrollment opens under sweeping federal health insurance changes, Montgomery County is preparing its education, outreach, eligibility and enrollment services for nearly 222,000 uninsured residents of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

Montgomery was one of two public health departments among a total of six partners selected by the state to serve as a “connector entity” in implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” Each connector entity will provide enrollment assistance to the uninsured and to small employers in its region. Six regions were identified across the state.

Maryland’s regional approach ensures that the state’s uninsured and underserved communities are provided with in-person assistance as the new health insurance coverage options become available in October, according to a news release from the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.

Maryland will offer insurance through the Maryland Health Connection, the state-based health insurance marketplace, and Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services will provide enrollment services and assistance to residents, county spokeswoman Mary Anderson said.

“We will be working here in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties to identify and then to enroll all the eligible people in our region into these health plans,” Anderson said.

Anderson said the county will be hiring about 40 full- and part-time employees to serve as “navigators” and assistants who will aid and enroll residents in a plan.

Residents will have options for enrolling in a health plan, including online, over the phone and in person through the services provided by the county, she said.

To provide the navigators and education, the county was granted $7.8 million from the state and federal government for a one-year period, Anderson said.

To reach residents in all corners of its region, Montgomery has subcontracted with community-based organization partners including: Prince George’s County Health Department, Prince George’s County Department of Social Services, Benefits Data Trust, Casa of Maryland, Community Clinic, Family Services, Interfaith Works, Korean Community Services Center of Greater Washington, Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care and Primary Care Coalition of Montgomery County.

To help answer questions, Anderson said the county’s new exchange website will launch this week and that the county will host a series of forums on the Affordable Care Act. The forums will provide residents the opportunity to learn about the insurance coverage and potential assistance available through Maryland Health Connection, according to a county news release. The forum schedule:

• Wednesday, 7 to 8:30 p.m., East County Regional Center at 3300 Briggs Chaney Road, Silver Spring.

• Thursday, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Upcounty Regional Center at 12900 Middlebrook Road, Germantown.

• Sept. 3, 7 to 8:30 p.m., the Mid-County Regional Center at 2424 Reedie Drive, Wheaton.

• Sept. 5, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Center at 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda.