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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



Affordable Care Act press conference focuses on LGBT community
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times

This article shared 3875 times since Tue Jan 5, 2016
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Local, state and federal officials held a press conference focused on LGBT Chicagoans and the Affordable Care Act ( ACA ) Jan. 5 at the Howard Brown Health Center.

Among the speakers were David Ernesto Munar ( president and CEO of Howard Brown Health ), U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley ( vice-chair of the Congressional LGBT Caucus ), Kathleen Falk ( region V director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ), Ald. Tom Tunney and Molly Malone, who recently received assistance from Howard Brown in getting ACA coverage.

According to the event's press release, "the percentage of LGBT adults without health insurance has decreased since the ACA went into effect, however, many LGBT individuals are still uninsured."

To get covered by Feb. 1, leaders are urging everyone without health insurance to sign up by the Jan. 15 deadline. The final deadline for coverage in 2016 is Jan. 31 with coverage beginning March 1.

"There are many ways to enroll and Howard Brown Health can help," said Munar. "The LGBT community is impacted by a wide range of health concerns, from diabetes to HIV to substance use and we're proud to help provide a path to insurance coverage to address these issues. Enrollment and coverage transforms people's lives. We've seen it in our patients and in our community so it's vital to get covered.

"Over the past two years, we've helped over 500 people get covered through the marketplace and we have a full team of insurance navigators to help the uninsured determine their eligibility, asses their options and make a decision."

"Thanks to the ACA, we're seeing the rates of uninsured people fall below 10 percent for the very first time in our nation's history," said Falk. "Over 17 million people now have health insurance through the ACA. We're seeing record demand and our message of quality, affordable coverage is resonating but we know there are still many more people without insurance, including many in the LGBT community. As open enrollment proceeds, we're not taking our foot off the gas pedal and neither are our great partners."

Falk praised the work that Quigley and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky ( who was scheduled to attend but was unable to ) have done in making the ACA happen. She also noted that prices for coverage have gone down in the area this year.

Falk spoke about the President's Healthy Communities Challenge, which focuses on boosting the enrollment numbers in 20 communities with large numbers or high percentages of uninsured people. The communities were chosen by President Obama and currently Chicago is in fourth place. Falk called on everyone in Chicago, including the LGBT community, to keep enrolling so Chicago will come out on top.

"Before Congress passed the ACA, premiums were rising three times faster than wages, the rising costs of health care was hurting small businesses and Americas were denied coverage because of preexisting conditions," said Quigley. "Those weren't the good old days. Now, thanks to the ACA, all Americans have access to affordable health insurance, which is especially important for groups that have unique health needs or have traditionally been underserved, like the LGBT community."

"It's fitting that we're here at Howard Brown because they've served this community for over 40 years when many in our community had no insurance whatsoever," said Tunney. "As health care has evolved and access is attained we need to continue to support institutions like Howard Brown who are meeting the needs of the community every day."

Malone, who lives in Evanston with her 14-year-old son, spoke about being laid off and needing affordable health insurance since both her and her son receive medical care on a regular basis. She noted that she enrolled in COBRA but it was expensive and unsustainable so she looked to the ACA for coverage.

"I tried to register online but I found it a little confusing and had difficulty understanding exactly what the questions meant so I knew I needed to ask for help," said Malone. "I found out about Howard Brown's Health Insurance Enrollment Assistance Program and called to get an appointment. The facilitator helped me with the questions on so I could accurately answer them and find the best plan for myself and my son.

"As a parent knowing that your child will get the healthcare they need is so important and not having to budget for our healthcare gives me peace of mind. As I look for work, I'm thankful this is one thing I don't have to worry about."

Also in attendance were Howard Brown Health General Counsel Michelle Wetzel, Howard Brown Health COO Kristin Keglovitz-Baker and Equality Illinois Director of Public Policy Mike Ziri.

Howard Brown offers free, in-person help Monday-Friday at its 4025 N. Sheridan Ave. location. See .

Enrollment opportunities are also available Sat. Jan. 9, at Community First Medical Center, 5645 W. Addison Ave, 7th Floor at 9 a.m-4p.m.; Thursday, Jan. 14, at New Age Services, 1330 S. Kostner Ave. 2-6 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 15, at Presence Saints Mary, 2233 W. Division St., 3rd Floor, at 12-8 p.m.; and Saturday, Jan. 16, at Roberto Clemente Community Academy, 1147 N. Western Ave, at 9 a.m.-5p.m.

For more information, visit or call 866-311-1119 .

This article shared 3875 times since Tue Jan 5, 2016
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