A New Day for Texas: On the Road in Dallas

Posted January 31, 2014

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was in Dallas today as Paul Quinn College and the NAACP Dallas Branch announced a series of joint initiatives with other community organizations to help Dallas-Ft. Worth residents learn about their options for affordable quality health insurance and get covered through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

With African American History Month beginning Saturday, Secretary Sebelius was joined by Paul Quinn College President Michael J. Sorrell, NAACP Dallas Branch President Dr. Juanita Wallace, and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson.

The Secretary talked about the need for quality, affordable coverage in the Lone Star State, particularly because Texas has the highest rate of uninsured and eligible individuals in the country -- nearly 4.9 million, including nearly 617,000 African Americans.  In the Dallas-Ft.Worth area, there are more than 1.1 million people who are uninsured and eligible for coverage.

African Americans nationwide are 55 percent more likely to be uninsured than white Americans, and they are hit hard by health disparities, Secretary Sebelius said. But under the Affordable Care Act, it’s a new day, and an estimated 4.2 million uninsured African Americans may be eligible for financial assistance for coverage through the Marketplace.

Secretary Sebelius also called on Texas to act on Medicaid expansion, noting that Texas taxpayers are losing roughly $18 million a day while the state turns down federal dollars to expand Medicaid.

Across the Lone Star State, more than half of the uninsured population -- more than 2.5 million people, including nearly 550,000 people in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area—could be covered if the state expanded Medicaid. And under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost of the expansion population for the first three years and no less than 90 percent of the cost after that.

Secretary Sebelius praised the NAACP’s efforts to help people learn about their new choices for coverage and help them enroll in health plans through the Marketplace at HealthCare.gov. She noted that President Obama in his State of the Union message called for 2014 to be a Year of Action and called for every American who knows someone without health insurance to help them get covered by March 31, the end of open enrollment.

She also heard Linda Goodson, a navigator with the Community Council of Greater Dallas, talk about her experience educating and enrolling consumers in coverage through the Marketplace. Linda said she really enjoys her job because she gets to see people’s excitement once they get insurance. “I get lots of hugs and handshakes,” she said.

“I have worked with consumers that have major illnesses and thought they could not get insurance because of that illness. We completed their enrollment and they got their eligibility letter and were so excited to learn they were eligible for” a private plan and financial assistance to help lower the premium.

With about 3 million people and counting signed up for health coverage across the country, it’s a new day.