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Local Affordable Care Act 'helpers' report great progress

By GARY LIBERATORE

(WKTV) - Community groups and not for profit agencies across the country have been given federal funding to help people navigate through the process of enrolling in an insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act.

One of those not for profits is ACR Health in Utica.  ACR stands for Access Care and Resources and is formerly Aids Community Resources, located at 401 Columbia St..

Four 'patient navigator' positions within ACR Health have been created and paid for by the federal government specifically to help people navigate through the process.

ACR Health's Community Health Coordinator Steve Wood is also coordinating the patient navigator program throughout the Upstate New York region for ACR Health.

Wood says the patient navigators had to go through an extensive training period this fall to become certified in order to help people, "They have an ability to show a consumer all of the plans that will be offered to them and help them understand what that plan offers, how much insurance do they need, how much they don't need, what are they willing to pay, are their doctors on there, are they not, are their prescriptions on this particular policy?  Things like that which makes navigators very beneficial."

Wood says the patient navigators have enrolled more than 100 Central New Yorkers in a qualified insurance plan in the first three weeks they have been up and running.  He says after the first week in October, when there were some minor issues, he says there really haven't been any more issues here locally.

Wood says the reason for the success is because we in New York State do not have to use the federal website called healthcare.gov, which so many people across the country have had issues with and instead we use New York's website called healthbenefitexchange.ny.gov, "New York was one of 17 states that decided to develop their own marketplace or their own exchange."

Melissa Clarke is one of the four patient navigators here in Utica.  She says she recently helped a 23 year old hairdresser from the Utica area who couldn't afford to pay her share for health insurance through her employer, "So she left her with a full coverage, zero deductible, 41.00 a month policy, and she was ecstatic, you know, hugging us, thank you so much."

There are patient navigators at selected not for profits across Upstate New York.

Here is a contact list for information and to set up appointments:

ACR Health (800)475-2430 Utica Oneida County
Planned Parenthood - Utica (800)475-2430 Utica Oneida County
Planned Parenthood - Rome (800)475-2430 Rome Oneida County

Herkimer County Department of Social Services

(800)475-2430 Herkimer Herkimer County
Catholic Charities (800)475-2430 Illion Herkimer County
Community Action Partnership (800)475-2430 Morrisville Madison County
Madison County Department of Social Services (800)475-2430 Wampsville Madison County
Madison County Public Health (800)475-2430 Wampsville Madison County

 

To set up an appointment, call the number above, and reference the specific location you are looking for.

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