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Conflict of Interest Note: The writer of this story has a conflict of interest. See editor's note.
Two upcoming events --- in Turtle Creek and Homestead --- will help people who need health insurance to sign up.
The first is from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Human Services Center Corp., 519 Penn Ave., Turtle Creek.
The second is from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Mon Valley Initiative, 305 E. 8th Ave., Homestead.
Both events will include "health care navigators" from the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh, who will help customers understand their options for purchasing insurance on the marketplace.
“Given all the recent upheaval regarding the Affordable Care Act, questions have arisen about health care coverage, who is eligible and how individuals that need access to care can sign up,” said state Sen. Jim Brewster, whose offce is organizing the Turtle Creek event. “These are critical questions that deserve accurate answers.”
The Turtle Creek event also will include information on how to enroll in Medicaid --- the federal health care program for people on low incomes --- and on how to complete applications for help with gas and electric bills through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.
The event in Homestead is being organized by state Sen. Jay Costa and also will include information about Medicaid as well as the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.
Health care enrollment begins Nov. 1 for people who purchase insurance under the Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as "Obamacare."
But it may be harder for some people to find out how to use the health insurance exchanges this year. The Trump administration has announced that it will cut national advertising for information about how to purchase insurance on the exchanges by 90 percent --- from $100 million to $10 million.
In addition, the administration is shutting down the federal healthcare website on Sundays during the enrollment period.
The budget for health care navigators --- such as the ones being provided by the YWCA at the Turtle Creek and Homestead events --- has been cut by 41 percent nationwide.
“I cannot emphasize how important it is for those who want to access health care to come to the enrollment event and learn what is available," Brewster said in a statement.
“Accessing health care through the marketplace can help families manage health care costs and receive life-saving care,” he said. “The professionals on hand will be able to answer questions and help enroll citizens in Medicaid and the health marketplace and assist in completing LIHEAP applications.
Brewster said appointments for the Turtle Creek event on Nov. 9 can be made by calling HSCC at (412) 829-7112 or booked online.
Those planning to enroll should bring the names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and recent pay stubs for all household members who want to purchase insurance, organizers said.
In addition, if they are interested in applying for LIHEAP at the Turtle Creek event, Brewster's office said they should bring a recent heating bill.
To register for the Nov. 15 event, call (412) 464-4000, ext. 4001.
Another event will be held in downtown Pittsburgh from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 1 at the YWCA office, 305 Wood St. Call (412) 255-1471 for more information.
In addition to health care insurance signups, a spokesperson said, the downtown Pittsburgh event also will include information from the Center for Race & Gender Equity, PA Women Work, Neighborhood Legal Services Association, Allegheny County Health Department's Lead Safe Homes Program, Allegheny Link, Bidwell Training Center, Catholic Charities, The Center for Women, Dress for Success, Duquesne Light, Peoples Gas and Travelers Aid, among other organizatons.
Editor's Note: The writer of this article has a conflict of interest. His full-time day job is with Mon Valley Initiative. MVI exercises no editorial control of Tube City Almanac and no remuneration is made to the writer by MVI for any work performed for Tube City Community Media Inc., which is performed outside of MVI's time.
Originally published October 25, 2017.