Public forum to explore Affordable Care Act

By Darla Slipke

Staff Writer

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Local residents are invited to attend an Affordable Care Act Forum sponsored by the Edgecombe County Human Relations Commission.

The event is scheduled to take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium of the Edgecombe County Administration Building at 201 Saint Andrew St. in Tarboro.

The first hour of the event will serve as an informational session. Participants will hear from two presenters – Adam Linker, a policy analyst for the N.C. Justice Center, and Sorien Schmidt, North Carolina Director for Enroll America, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that seeks to maximize the number of uninsured Americans who enroll in health coverage made available by the Affordable Care Act.

Schmidt will define the marketplace and discuss where to find information, what the health insurance policies cover, where to get help enrolling and why people should enroll.

Linker will discuss the goals of health reform, how North Carolina is implementing the Affordable Care Act and how decisions are affecting vulnerable people across the state.

Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions. Four or five certified application counselors will be on site to schedule appointments, answer questions and assist people with applications.

The event is designed to provide impartial support to local residents, said Alice Schenall, chairwoman of the Edgecombe County Human Relations Commission.

The commission is not trying to compete with other entities that have offered informational sessions or assistance, Schenall said.

“We want to continue to spread the message because you can’t hear it enough,” she said.

One of the core duties of the Edgecombe County Human Relations Commission is to act as an impartial public forum so there will be better communications between all segments of the county, Schenall said. The commission also seeks to encourage good will between citizens and to promote the general welfare of the community, among other goals, she said.

A large number of Edgecombe County residents are uninsured, Schenall said.

People can visit healthcare.gov to search for health insurance plans through an online health insurance marketplace.

The open enrollment period for 2014 ends March 31.