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Thousands get help signing up for Obamacare

March 12, 2014
By MEL TOADVINE ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Politicians who say they want to be elected so they can repeal the Affordable Care Act, known to many as Obamacare, might want to ask the more than 4,500 people in Lehigh who have signed up to the insurance plan and are happy with it.

That's the numbers from Marissa Gonzalez, a certified application counselor, who has been in Lehigh from time to time helping people apply for Obamacare. She set up an office at Lehigh Community Services, which also houses The United Way.

And that number doesn't account for those who went online and purchased their insurance plans themselves, Gonzalez said.

Article Photos

Marissa Gonzalez

"The deadline to apply for Obamacare is March 28 and already in Lehigh, I am booked up with appointments to assist people who want to buy insurance from the plan, but need help in applying for it," Gonzalez, said. "I can't take any more appointments."

She is with the Family Health Centers of Southwest Florida, an agency that offers such help in filing for insurance through the Affordable Care Act. The agency also helps people who are in need.

"Many of the people in Lehigh, maybe 20 percent, could not qualify to get Obamacare because the state of Florida opted out in receiving federal funding for people who would qualify for Medicaid," she said.

Last week when Gov. Scott delivered his state of the state speech in Tallahassee, he never brought up the subject, but has hinted in the past that he could change his mind. But a Republican-controlled legislature has refused to accept the federal funding for Medicaid in Florida.

Gonzalez said that the end date for applying for insurance through the Affordable Care Act is March 31.

"And I am dated up with appointments up to the deadline here in Lehigh," she said.

"It has been a steady flow of people when I am here and we will have more than 4,500 people signed up by the March 31 deadline," she said.

Gonzalez has been coming to Lehigh for a few months now and the word spread quickly that she would assist anyone who didn't have insurance or anyone who wanted more affordable insurance.

"Now when I get calls or someone stops me and wants to make an appointment, I have to refer them to the Family Health Centers of Southwest Florida and they will try to do what they can to aid them.

Those who can't meet the deadline for whatever reason should get in touch with the Family Health Centers of Southwest Florida by calling them at 239-332-0417 and explain their needs," Gonzalez said.

She also noted that she has also appeared as some of the local churches in Lehigh and other organizations to talk about Obamacare and how to become enrolled.

"The people we have helped to sign up are very satisfied with their policies," Gonzalez said.

Young people, who are not on their parents' insurance policy have come in and applied for insurance and have gotten good coverage and they are happy with it," she said.

"We have had all ages of people. We have had people who have never had insurance before to come in and I have helped them get coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

"Obamacare has been a blessing for all the people who have come here. There have been people with private insurance who have come in and they have been able to get a similar policy through Obamacare for less money than they were spending on another plan," she said.

Those who have not applied for Obamacare coverage and need assistance in their daily living may contact the Family Health Centers of Southwest Florida. They will assist people with primary care, dental care and pediatrics services. It's for the uninsured and low income people, she said.

She said when people ask her about the attacks that have been made on Obamacare, she asks them if they have ever voted. If the answer is no, she says she tells them to register and vote and make their view known.

"If they want to make a change, this is the way to do it, go out and vote and now is the time to register for the primary and the November elections," she said.

"All I can tell you is that the 4,500 people are signing up for Obamacare are they were satisfied with what we were able to find for them," she said.

The Affordable Care Act is law and was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

Many politicians say they are going to vote to repeal Obamacare if they get into office. That would mean they would have to defeat a law on the books and whoever is president would have to allow it to go through without a veto.

Over the past two years, there have been numerous attempts by a

Republican-controlled House of Representatives to repeal Obamacare but it has never been taken up by the U.S. Senate.

Gonzalez said there may be many more who have gotten an insurance plan through Obamacare by going online and doing it themselves. She said more information can be obtained online at:



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