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NFCC unable to provide continuing healthcare navigation aid

Federal cuts gut programs; local families struggling

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ROSWELL, Ga. — With the national deadline for open enrollment fast approaching, local residents have been struggling to find healthcare assistance now that North Fulton Community Charities can no longer offer help.

Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, NFCC has worked with several partner organizations to help low-income families in North Fulton navigate the healthcare marketplace. Partners, such as Enroll Atlanta and CSRA, would teach individuals and clients how to go through the application or renewal process and select the best insurance for their situation. CSRA additionally would conduct ACA presentations to groups.

NFCC was able to help 118 residents in North Fulton alone last year through such partnerships.

However, because of changes to the healthcare system on the federal level, many of these programs and organizations were gutted once the federal funds and grants they received ran dry. The local organizations, such as Enroll Atlanta and CSRA, are no longer listed on healthcare.gov and can no longer offer such programs.

“This is not due to any performance issues, but [from] budget cuts and difficult decisions that were made at the highest level of the government,” CSRA Outreach Coordinator Whitney Horton wrote in an email to NFCC. “It has been a privilege to support the city of Roswell, and we feel very fortunate to have been able to assist the consumers at North Fulton Community Charities.”

Without the funding, NFCC Director of Programs Eden Purdy said, our hands are tied.

NFCC receives calls every day from local residents seeking ACA Marketplace assistance. But now, NFCC’s only option is to direct people to the healthcare.gov website or to insurance agents. And the families they help are already feeling the sting.

“They have to go to an insurance provider, agent or broker,” Purdy said. “If they don’t, they face bigger challenges.”

Last year, NFCC was able to help an individual find insurance coverage with a premium of $80 a month. When that person tried to renew their application through the website, that premium jumped to $500 a month.

“They were trying to find someone that could help them and figure out if they were doing something wrong,” Purdy said. “Unfortunately, our only recourse was to send them to the healthcare.gov website or to contact an insurance agent.

“It’s a big disservice that we’re doing to our community by not being able to have Enroll Atlanta or CSRA to help folks know their options and understand how to effectively apply or renew their applications.”

NFCC continues to advocate for and support affordable healthcare for all Georgians, Purdy said.

There still are a few options available for assistance. Healthcare.gov still has a page listing local insurance agents and has a toll-free phone helpline. Open enrollment ends Dec. 15.


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