Guest post: Bob Cohen, Policy Director, Citizen Action of New York
Close to 70 health insurance Navigators and representatives of hospitals, unions, health plans and community groups from the Capital District, the upper Hudson Valley and the North Country assembled on October 8th for the area’s third annual Outreach and Enrollment Summit. They shared best practices and worked in partnership to better coordinate activities in the region to get New Yorkers covered.
Like the others in the summit series sponsored by the Healthcare Education Project, HCFANY and other organizations, the Capital Region Summit was designed to build on the success of the New York Marketplace in enrolling over 2.5 million New Yorkers so far. The summit was kicked off by two outstanding Marketplace representatives – Executive Director Donna Frescatore and Chief Marketing and Outreach Officer Margo Janack – who detailed the agency’s outreach plans for the third year of Open Enrollment, which begins on November 1. The NY State of Health plans to expand the number of New Yorkers with health coverage through a variety of tactics, including: e-mails targeting the uninsured, stepped-up social media, outreach at cultural heritage events, networking with faith-based organizations, and partnering with community businesses like pharmacies and grocery stores.
An engaging panel of local advocates led participants in brainstorming innovative ideas to sign up area residents, and these discussions continued in the breakouts that followed. The panel included Navigator Veronica Fitzpatrick of Public Policy and Education Fund, which serves the Capital District and the Hudson Valley; Navigator Susan White of Nathan Littauer Hospital, which serves Fulton and Montgomery Counties; and Laden Alomar, Executive Director, Centro Civico, which serves Latinos in Albany and Montgomery Counties. Among the many suggestions were going into jails to enroll incarcerated individuals and working with refugee groups.
But the excitement didn’t stop with the Enrollment Summit! On October 19, Citizen Action of New York, 1199SEIU and HCFANY held a press conference to publicize the start of Open Enrollment in the Capital Region. It featured speakers from the NY State of Health, the mayors of Albany and Troy, the Albany City Treasurer, Congressman Paul Tonko (20th C.D.), and a local consumer who spoke about of the value of having a Navigator to help him to enroll smoothly. Four area television stations and the area public radio station covered the event. (See this example of the coverage: http://wamc.org/post/community-leaders-launch-2016-countdown-coverage-campaign.) Follow-up groups convened during the Summit also plan to work on a menu of activities, including social media, tabling and events.