Affordable Care Act

This October, Oregonians will begin to enrolling in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA is the largest expansion of health care for Americans in the last 50 years. As a union, we have been fighting for decades to expand health care for all. The implementation of the ACA is a huge step in making that happen. In Oregon, over 600,000 additional people will become eligible for health care and most people will receive assistance to make it affordable.

Realizing the Promise of the Affordable Care Act

As a sister to a man with terminal cancer, Sharon* knows the importance of early detection. So when she began to notice some early warning signs of the disease herself—including a hard lump in her stomach— she knew it was time to get checked.

But there was a problem. Like more than 560,000 of her fellow Oregonians, Sharon has no health coverage. A homecare worker, she was never given enough hours to qualify for coverage through her job. And while she’s been on the Oregon Health Plan waiting list for three years, she’s often had to resort to emergency rooms for care.

But now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the work of SEIU members and staff, life is about to change dramatically for Sharon. She—along with more than 11,000 previously uninsured homecare and personal support workers—will have health coverage through Cover Oregon starting January 1.

An enrollment specialist helps an SEIU member fill out paperwork for health care coverage

SEIU Oregon State Council has been holding ACA enrollment workshops in communities throughout Oregon to help people sign up for access to quality healthcare through Cover Oregon, signing up over 2,000 Oregonians since November.

Since November 1, the SEIU Oregon State Council has been helping Oregonians realize the promise of the ACA by holding enrollment fairs throughout the state. There, benefits counselors and certified assisters are helping eligible families sign up for quality, affordable health insurance through Cover Oregon and providing information about the state’s new health insurance exchange.

While these sessions are aimed at SEIU-represented homecare workers like Sharon who will have coverage for the first time in years, the community is also welcome. In many cases, homecare workers have brought their entire families to enroll in life-changing coverage. As of this writing, SEIU workers have signed up over 2,000 Oregonians for coverage through the ACA.

Of course, local and national media have focused on the shortcomings of the roll out of the ACA. Some of this negative attention is warranted: enrollees were frustrated with technological problems with an enrollment website that took far too long to be operational, and rules around existing policies and coverage are difficult to understand and at times can seem contradictory.

Yet, despite its early challenges, the ACA continues to hold great promise in addressing the problems of the broken system we are leaving behind.

The vision we are moving to is one in which people don’t have to live in fear of being bankrupted by a medical bill. Where no one is denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition, and parents are able to cover their young adult children through their early twenties. Where the Sharons of the world don’t need to watch the clock tick as they put off potentially life-saving treatment.

This is the promise that SEIU and the Affordable Care Act are helping Oregonians realize—the promise of quality affordable care for all.

Enrollment in the ACA is continuing through March. For more information, including information on how you can speak with a benefits counselor about getting coverage for yourself or someone you know, sign up for a community workshop here.

*Name has been changed.

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SEIU Health Care Community Workshops

Please join us for a Health Care Community Workshop where you can learn about the Affordable Care Act and how it affects you and your family. The enrollment process can be complicated, so SEIU is organizing community workshops throughout the state to make sure everybody has the support they need to sign up. Click the meeting date for more information and to RSVP:

Portland Metro Regional Meetings

Saturday, November 16: Portland, 10 am-6 pm, Teamsters Hall, 1850 NE 162nd Ave Portland

Monday, November 18: Oregon City, 4 pm-9 pm, Atkinson Memorial Church, 710 6th St, Oregon City, OR 97045

Saturday, November 23:Hillsboro, 10 am-6 pm, Community Senior Center, 750 SE 8th Ave Hillsboro, OR 97123

Sunday, November 24: Portland, 10 am-6 pm

Tuesday, November 26:Beaverton, 4 pm-9 pm

Salem Regional Meetings

Sunday, November 17: Salem, 10 am-8 pm, Roths Supermarket, 1130 Wallace Rd NW, Salem OR 97304

Thursday, November 21: Salem, 4 pm-9 pm, Red Lion, 3301 Market Street NE Salem, OR 97301

Saturday, November 23: Albany, 10 am-6 pm

Eugene Regional Meetings

Saturday, November 16: Eugene, 10 am-6 pm, SEIU Local 503, 488 E. 11th Ave Ste B-100 Eugene Oregon

Sunday, November 17: Coos Bay, 12 pm-8 pm, Coos Bay/North Bend- Labor Temple- 3427 St. North Bend

Monday, November 18: Roseburg, 4 pm-9 pm, Labor Temple, 742 SE Roberts Avenue Roseburg, 97470

Saturday, November 23: Albany, 10 am-6 pm

Sunday, November 24: Eugene, 10 am-8 pm

Southern Oregon Regional Meetings

Tuesday, November 19: Grants Pass, 4 pm-9 pm, HASL Center For Independent Living, 305 NE E Street Grants Pass

Wednesday, November 20: Medford, 4 pm-9 pm, Santo Community Center, 701 N. Columbus Ave. Medford OR 96067

Monday, November 25: Klamath Falls, 4 pm-9 pm

Tuesday, November 26: Medford, 4 pm-9 pm

Central and Eastern Oregon Regional Meetings

Monday, November 18: Pendleton, 12 pm-8 pm, Pendleton Convention Center Happy Canyon Room, 1601 Westgate, Pendleton, OR 97801

Tuesday, November 19:La Grande, 4 pm-8 pm, Blue Mountain Conference Center, 404 12th St, La Grande, OR 97850

Wednesday, November 20: Ontario, 4 pm-9 pm, Four Rivers Cultural Center, 676 SW 5th Ave, Ontario, OR 97914

Monday, November 25: Bend, 4 pm-9 pm

Tuesday, November 26: Bend, 4 pm-9 pm

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Quality, affordable health insurance for every Oregonian: We did it!

Starting in October 2013, families can sign up for quality, affordable health insurance. But even before October, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has already started to impact Oregonians by:

  • Giving health coverage to millions of young adults by allowing children to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they are 26.
  • Making sure our health care dollars don’t get wasted on CEO bonuses by requiring insurance companies to spend 80% of their resources on health care benefits—or return the money to the consumer.
  • Requiring regular visits to the doctor and other preventative care to be covered in all health insurance plans that consumers buy.
  • Providing health insurance to the people who need it most by ensuring that insurance companies can no longer deny people due to pre-existing conditions.

What the ACA Means for You

If you already have affordable employer-provided insurance:

For the SEIU workers who already have affordable insurance through their employer, the ACA will provide additional benefits.

  • You can keep your kids on your insurance until they are 26.
  • You can feel confident that insurance companies are being held to higher standards through stronger rules and regulations, and that precious health care dollars will be spent where they belong: keeping you and your family healthy.
  • Your family won’t be denied insurance because of illness or health history.

If you don’t currently have affordable insurance:

For other SEIU members who don’t currently have affordable insurance, the ACA will provide access to quality, affordable, health insurance for you and your family.

  • Oregonians who don’t already have insurance through an employer can enroll in the state’s new health insurance exchange, known as Cover Oregon.
  • Even if you have insurance through an employer, you can still get on the Oregon Health Plan if you are eligible. Basic eligibility is monthly income of less than $1320/mo for individuals or $2700/mo for a family of four.
  • If you are uninsured because you can’t afford the insurance offered through your employer, you could qualify for tax credits through the exchange if the cost of your health insurance is 9.5% or more of your income.
  • If you have family or friends that are uninsured, they can likely qualify for tax credits to help them purchase health care on the exchange.

We Did It

SEIU members stand for quality, affordable health care. We believe families should have access to see a doctor without breaking the bank, and insurance companies should put patients’ health (not profits) first. After fighting for these basic principles for more than two decades, our fight paid off!

We’ll Never Go Back

We still have a long way to go to make sure that the implementation of ACA is successful. The ACA is not perfect. We know it will need adjustments—but making adjustments to the new law is better than going back to the days when insurance companies could do what ever they wanted, sick children couldn’t get health insurance because of pre-existing conditions, and preventive care was not covered for millions of Americans.

We Can Help

If you have questions about insurance options for yourself or your family, we can help!

• Call the SEIU ACA hotline at 1-855-437-2694

Join us at a Health Care Community Workshop in your area to learn more and enroll for benefits.

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Fast track enrollment in the Oregon Health Plan: send your form back today!

The State of Oregon is trying to make signing up for health care through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as easy as possible. Recently the Department of Human Services (DHS) sent out a “fast-track” health care enrollment letter to over 200,000 Oregonians who are eligible for fast track enrollment in the Oregon Health Plan. The form is simple to complete, and it gives you an easy way to sign up for low-cost, quality health care in just minutes.

If you got this form, fill it out and send it back. If your client, neighbor, friend or relative got the form, please encourage them to fill it out and send it back. This is the easiest way to get health insurance starting January 1 if you are eligible.

If you are a Homecare or Personal Support Worker and you got the letter, please call the SEIU ACA hotline [1-855-437-2694] to let them know you are sending back. We want to make that you get access to the Homecare Worker Trust benefits that will be available through the newly ratified contract as well.

Eligibility for fast-track health care was determined by people’s enrollment in other state programs such as food stamps (SNAP), or if your children are on the Oregon Health Plan.  If you have misplaced the letter or believe your are eligible but did not receive one, please call the SEIU ACA hotline at 1-855-437-2694.

Sample letter from DHS:

Sample "fast track" enrollment letter from DHS

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