With the kick-off for Obamacare coming up on October 1st, Tucson was visited by David Sayen, Regional Adminstrator for CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid), the agency overseeing the Affordable Care Act. Sayen was in Tucson to talk to the team of Navigators and other organizations that will be promoting health insurance enrollment in Arizona.
I got to speak with Mr. Sayen because I have been blogging about Obamacare, so I asked him how one million uninsured Arizonans are going to find out about their options for health insurance over the next six months.
Mr. Sayen said the local Navigators, Application Assistants, and Champions for Coverage are “trusted voices in the community” who will make people aware of their health insurance options and help them enroll in AHCCCS or an individual plan.
He said, “Our biggest partner is the Community Health Center Association [with 140 facilities across Arizona] and they will have trained staff to enroll people at their sites”.
The other Navigators were chosen because they have specific access to groups that have high uninsured populations . The group in Yuma, for example, is focused on agriculture workers while the Urban League in Phoenix is very involved with inner city residents.
CMS is also certifying Application Assistants in hospitals and other community institutions to take uninsured people through the steps to enroll in coverage.
Volunteer organizations are also being trained as “Champions for Coverage” to get the message out by talking to groups and individuals about enrolling in health insurance.
“Ultimately it’s people who are here that will make this succeed and sustain it in the long run”, he said.
I asked Mr. Sayen if the state of Arizona is cooperating with outreach efforts for Obamacare. I’ve been reading that state officials in Florida are so against Obamacare that they directed the Department of Health to ban Navigators from state health facilities. Thankfully, in Arizona, there doesn’t seem to be this kind of obstruction.
Why are they against Obamacare?
We talked briefly about why opponents of Obamcare are so adamant that it must be stopped by any means. According to Sayen, “For people who oppose the Affordable Care Act, the nightmare is the taxes that pay for it all. They think the tax on medical equipment and health insurance policies are horrible things.”
At the conclusion of our talk he offered the reasoning behind the monumental program that is Obamacare. “Our theory is that there is a legitimate place for the government to create a more orderly marketplace so consumers can get optimal value and insurance companies have the opportunity to make a reasonable gain on the work they are doing. We are trying to facilitate a marketplace that isn’t working very well.”
His theory sounds reasonable to me. Obamacare is about fixing a broken system and giving one million Arizonans access to health insurance and health care. Now what is so terrible about that?