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Opa-locka joins final push for health care enrollments

Miami Times staff report | 3/27/2014, 9 a.m.
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson at affordable health care drive enrollment drive.

With five days to go, residents all over Miami are scrambling in a last minute rush to sign up for President Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Plan.

The Opa-locka Community Development Corporations will hold a Health and Resource Fair on Saturday to help residents sign up for the insurance plan. The fair will be held at Sherbondy Village Community Center/Park from 1-4pm at 215 President Barak Obama or Perviz Avenue.

Health administrators are reporting a surge in numbers as residents flock to enrollment drives in Liberty City and West little River to sign up for the plan to avoid a paying a penalty fee.

The deadline to sign up for the plan is March 31. After that, only a qualifying event-the birth of a child, a divorce, or a job loss- will allow one to get health insurance for the rest of the year. Enrollment isn’t expected again until Nov. 15 for policies will be effective on Jan. 1, 2015.

Florida, with the second highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation, leads at least 36 states in sign-ups on the federally run exchange, with more than 442,000 people selecting a health plan, and an additional 124,000 assessed eligible for Medicaid.

An estimated 765,000 Floridians fall into the coverage gap, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. A wave of 800,000 during the first two weeks of March — drove enrollment nationwide to more than 5 million, although the president’s goal was 7 million, the White House announced last week.

But with five days before the deadline, the President Obama is aiming for at least 6 million as local leaders step up efforts to finish strong. The president, who was in town last week for private fundraisers, used celebrities to boost the plan’s appeal to younger Americans. Commercials featuring Miami Heat basketball player LeBron James urging fans to sign for Obama ran throughout the weekend on local television stations.

District 2 County Commissioner Jean Monestine, City Commissioner Keon Hardemon and Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-FL, 24) all held enrollment drives at the 93rd Street Community Baptist Church and in Black neighborhoods last weekend seeking to help residents understand the plan.

Dozens of volunteers, college students and the trained counselors were on also on hand during the rush.

Residents who still need to sign up for the plan may do so online at www.healthcare.gov. They may also call the toll-free line (800-318-2596) for help.