Texas campaign seeks candidates for affordable health insurance

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on July 22, 2013 at 10:07 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 22 at 10:47 PM

DALLAS — If the Affordable Care Act is ever to work, volunteers like Luis Veloz and Allison Brim from the Texas Organizing Project must be successful first.

Six days a week they go door-to-door in low-to-middle income neighborhoods explaining Obamacare to the uninsured.

Texas is among the states refusing to help implement the Affordable Care Act.

"Well it's sure going to be easier in places where they want the law to work," said Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Promoting the plan is the reason she came to North Texas, before sitting down in an exclusive one-on-one with News 8.

"We may not have the government of the State of Texas, but we have lots of locally elected officials, county officials, health care providers and others who very much want the law to work, and want Texas to know about it," Sebelius added.

Open enrollment begins October 1.

Uninsured can sign up for coverage at the Healthcare.gov Marketplace.

Blue Cross, Humana and Aetna have already agreed to provide policies, Dallas County said, but rates have yet to be set.

The Obama administration hopes to sign up seven million uninsured people across the country in the coming months. But in order to be successful, the program needs a balanced risk pool that includes young, healthy people — lots of them. Otherwise, premiums will skyrocket and the program will be unaffordable.

"I think it's a given we're not going to be able to get everybody," said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. "It's going to be a monumental task, and we're going to have to do the very best we can do."

Jenkins joined Sebelius, religious leaders, representatives from Dallas ISD, and the Dallas County Medical Society on Monday to discuss strategy about how to notify the uninsured who are eligible for the program.

"It's much cheaper to go to an emergency room in Manhattan than it is for you to go to the emergency room in Dallas County, and that's because we have such a high rate of uninsured," Jenkins said.

Dallas County has 506,000 uninsured, the fourth largest population of its kind in the country, Jenkins added.

Those are the very people the Texas Organizing Project and other non-profits like it hope to find.

See the entire interview with Secretary Sebelius on "Inside Texas Politics." It airs this Sunday at 9:05 a.m. on WFAA Channel 8.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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