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LWV US arranged for all State League Presidents to join in the conference call with President Obama and the Secretary of Health and Human Resources and several others involved in the application of the Affordable Care Act to all citizens.  Click here to read more about the "Healthy Communities Challenge" the President is launching.

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 6, 2015

White House Announces “Healthy Communities Challenge”

Read this release on www.whitehouse.gov website >>>

As the Affordable Care Act’s coverage provisions have taken effect, 17.6 million Americans have gained coverage, and, since 2010, we’ve reduced the uninsured rate in this country by 45 percent.  The nation’s uninsured rate now stands at its lowest level ever. But still, in communities across the country, 10.5 million people eligible for Marketplace coverage remain uninsured.

Today, we are launching the White House “Healthy Communities Challenge” to engage key communities with large numbers or high percentages of uninsured in states across the country where strong federal, state and community collaboration can have a meaningful impact on reaching the uninsured. Through this challenge, we are calling on community leadership to build outreach efforts to reach these remaining uninsured and help them gain coverage. 

At the end of this third open enrollment period, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along with State-based Marketplaces, will publish tallies of new Marketplace signups in participating communities. These tallies will be compared to HHS estimates of the number of eligible uninsured people at the start of open enrollment to see which communities made the most progress during the challenge. 

The victorious community gets bragging rights, a healthier community, and a visit from President Obama to celebrate their success in helping ensure every American has health coverage.

Communities Participating in the “Healthy Communities Challenge”

Based on particularly high opportunity for impact, the White House reached out to local officials in each of these 20 communities, who embraced the “Healthy Communities Challenge” to get their uninsured constituents covered:Healthy Communities Challenge Logo

 

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

Via Telephone

2:36 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hey, guys.  Steve, thanks so much for everything you're doing.  You're a great example of how folks across the country are directly changing people’s lives.  And I'm really, really grateful for your work.

For everybody who is on the call, I'm honored to be with you.  We've got over 5,000 of you who are dedicated to helping your neighbors just like Steven.  And I want to take a special moment to give a shout-out to our colleagues from the Exchange Operations, because I know they’ve been working hard to make sure healthcare.gov is working right.  Your work doesn’t go unnoticed.  We are appreciative of everything that you’ve done to help connect people to coverage.

I want to take just a few minutes and speak with you right at the start of open enrollment because I know how hard everybody has been working, especially these first few days.  And when I listen to Steven and I think about a lot of you on the phone, it reminds me of my early days as a community organizer -- some really tough days, early mornings, late nights.  You’d host events, perhaps people wouldn't show up.  There were times when it was challenging to figure out whether you were making an impact.  And I know that there have been days that you guys have had just like that.

But I want everybody to remember that you are changing people’s lives with your work.  Because of you, as the law’s coverage provisions have taken effect, 17.6 million Americans have gained coverage, and the nation’s uninsured rate now stands at its lowest level ever.  We've reduced the number of uninsured adults by 38 percent.  And that means you’ve helped people sleep easier, get the checkup or surgery that they need, in a lot of cases live longer and lead healthier lives.  And that makes the country stronger.

So we're focused right now on making sure, number one, that folks who signed up last time stay covered and continue to have a good experience, and then we want to reach a lot of folks who still haven't signed up but are eligible.  And we're anticipating we're not going to have the same amount of national media attention we had in the past, so we've got to be a little more creative and we've got to talk about the most important thing that those that are still eligible for insurance, and that is affordability. 

According to our data -- and we've done a lot of research on this -- about six in 10 folks still don't know that financial assistance is available, or they’re confused about what that financial assistance means.  What we do know is that about eight in 10 people who’ve signed up for health care through HealthCare.gov are getting financial help to lower the cost of their monthly premiums.  And more than seven in 10 marketplace consumers are able to buy a plan for $75 or less a month after tax credits -- 70 percent, seven in 10.

So that's where you come in.  You’ve got to get that information out.  You guys are out there dispelling information, helping to provide more Americans with the tools they need to access affordable health insurance; helping those who have coverage understand how to use it; reenrolling those who have enrolled in the first two years -- or first two open enrollment periods.  And this is going to take every effort you gave in the last two open enrollment periods.

And I don't want us to ever lose sight of why we got involved in this fight in the first place, or why we're continuing to fight for it now.  I know that a lot of you have had a person you think about when the days get hard, somebody who didn’t have health care in your family, somebody who got sick, somebody who you know who suffered a really bad financial burden because of an illness. 

The person that I always think back to is a woman named Natoma Canfield, because in 2009, she wrote me a letter and told me that for years she had done everything right, bought health insurance, paid her premiums on time.  Then 18 years ago, Natoma was diagnosed with cancer.  And even though she had been cancer-free for more than a decade, her insurance companies kept on jacking up her rates year after year.  Finally she had to give up her health care because she couldn't afford to lose her house. 

And her story just captured situations that my mom had found herself in when she got sick, having to try to figure out finances alongside with getting better.  Every one of you have a similar story.  And those are the stories that carried me in the fight to pass Affordable Care Act.  It reminded me of all the Americans all across the country who have had to worry not only about getting sick, but the cost as well. 

Now, the good news is Natoma is well today.  I just saw her a few months ago.  And because of ACA, because of the work you guys have put in to make sure that health care in America changes, there are sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters, moms and dads who don't have to hang their fortune on chance.  And when you think about that person or persons that you know in your own lives who’ve been impacted, that will help you get through the days and the calls and the knocked-on doors and going to sites to get people signed up. 

I want you to remember there are millions more folks out there in that same situation.  And they’ve been fed a lot of misinformation, and this has become, unfortunately, this political issue that it should never have been.  And so that's, in a lot of circumstances, scared them off.  We've got to make sure that we reach them, and the best way to do it is by your efforts. 

So you guys inspire me.  I'm proud of you.  Keep it going.

And with that, what I want to do is turn the call over to our Secretary of Health and Human Services, who is doing a great job making this thing work all across the country -- Sylvia Burwell.

END               2:43 P.M. EST