About 40 people, representing dozens of community
groups, health organizations, elected officials, and local health officials,
gathered at Loma Linda University Health to organize enrollment efforts for the
affordable health coverage. The February 12 meeting was hosted by Covered
California, the state’s new health care insurance marketplace responsible for
reaching out to 5.3 million Californians in need of individual insurance.
“One of the objectives of the regional meeting was to
build relationships and collaboration within the region, and to share lessons
learned from the first weeks of enrollment,” said Edith Lara-Trad, information
officer at Covered California, and the regional coordinator for the effort.
“It is about the people who are in dire need of
health coverage. We have 47 days to mobilize our efforts and enroll them now.
One focus is to use in-person assistance to maximize enrollment,” she said.
LLUH, partnering with Community Clinic Association
of San Bernardino County, is one of 48 organizations receiving grants totaling
$37 million from Covered California to help residents access health coverage.
“LLUH wants to ensure the residents of the Inland
Empire are informed regarding the historic changes in our health care system
and we are getting our residents the coverage they need to improve and maintain
their health,” said Gerald Winslow, vice president for mission and culture at
LLUH and director of the Institute for Health Policy and Leadership, the
organizational entity responsible for administering the grant.
The regional meeting provided opportunities
for grantees, certified counselors, providers, community and health agencies,
and elected officials to mingle and work in partnerships in existing enrollment
events. Covered California partners and the healthcare community have played an
integral role to accomplish enrollment to many people thus far. Covered
California is providing specific support to the community and partners to drive
the regional effort.
Lara-Trad said the challenge is to encourage
more people to enroll by March 31, which is the deadline for open enrollment
and for obtaining premium assistance. “We are focusing on key gaps. Latinos,
African Americans, and other under-represented communities and young adults are
especially targeted for enrollment.”
Rosie Salazar, a Covered California certified
counselor, attended the event because she wanted to expand her network and get
ideas for getting more people to sign up for health insurance. “We are in
a community where we deal with many homeless and low-income people,” she said.
“We do not want them to be left out of affordable health care.”