HNH Foundation steps in to fill void In Obamacare outreach

CONCORD — The Healthy New Hampshire Foundation made an emergency grant today of nearly $100,000 to fill the gap created as government funding for promoting the Affordable Care Act health insurance enrollment period has been slashed by 90 percent, and the open enrollment period cut from 12 to six weeks.

More than 50,000 Granite Staters enrolled in health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace last year.

One of the HNH Foundation’s leading priorities is to increase access to children’s health and dental coverage. Access to health insurance is essential for children to get the health care they need, most importantly preventative care.

“The Affordable Care Act has been hugely successful in increasing the number of New Hampshire residents with health insurance,” said HNH Board Chair Kathy Crompton.

“We were concerned that the cut in federal funds for promotion combined with the shorter enrollment period would put many people at risk of losing their insurance coverage, and we needed to do something quickly to address that,” Crompton said.

In an emergency session, the Foundation board voted to provide $96,000 to Granite State Progress Education Fund working with the New Hampshire Health Care Coalition to support statewide and targeted outreach efforts using paid advertising, publicity, print material distribution and outreach at public events to those previously enrolled in the ACA marketplace and currently uninsured.

The goal is to bolster and support outreach efforts currently underway and broaden the outreach campaign to regions of the state that are not covered by other efforts.

The N.H. Health Care Coalition will generate more awareness of the open enrollment period from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 and drive consumers to opportunities for direct assistance to get enrolled. The group is coordinating with organizations such as Bi-State Primary Care, which has federal funding for the state’s Federally Qualified Health Centers to help enroll eligible families.

“Our mission is to improve the health and wellness of our population, most importantly our most vulnerable children,” said HNH President Gail Garceau. “Children can’t sign up for their own health insurance. Parents have to know this opportunity is available and act on it for their children to have access to health care. It’s critically important.“

“We are thankful to the HNH Foundation for their support of this critical work, and we’re hitting the ground running to increase public awareness of the open enrollment period,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress Education Fund.

Rice Hawkins added that access to health-care coverage allows families to go to the doctor when they are sick, and detect or address health problems before they become something more serious. She has assembled an extensive network of statewide advocacy and grassroots organizations working together on outreach.

“It is important for families to sign up by Dec. 15 to ensure they have this important health coverage. We encourage people who are interested in helping talk to their family, friends, and neighbors about enrolling in a health-care plan to contact our office and join the statewide outreach effort,” Rice Hawkins said.

The Affordable Care Act open enrollment period began Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 15.