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Today is it. This is the last day for Americans to enroll in an Affordable Care Act Marketplace. And I want to make a special appeal to the Latino community to keep working until the last minute to get the word out.
In the past month I’ve traveled to Philadelphia, San Antonio, Houston, Miami and Phoenix. I’ve concentrated on the Latino community because we lack health insurance in greater numbers than others. I am determined to get us covered – NOW.
We heard last week that more than 6 million Americans have signed up and that the virtual lines are long in the Marketplaces. That’s great. But we can’t let up.
In order to be assured of health coverage for the coming year enrollees have to have started the sign up process by midnight. Just like on an Election Day, as long as people are in line before midnight they’ll be given time to complete the enrollment process.
The resources are there for Latinos. In addition to healthcare.gov there is cuidadodesalud.gov. The call center – 1-800-318-2596 - has Spanish speaking operators waiting to help.
This is it. Spread the word anyway you can.
Let’s get everyone covered NOW!
It’s officially spring and the weather is slowly edging away from what’s been an unusually harsh winter season. We’ve had one major storm after another and lots of little ones in between. We’ve all made good use of our shovels, ice scrapers, coats, hats and gloves.
At Dulles Airport, one of the major measuring centers, the National Weather Service measured 52.8 inches of snow for this winter, 30 inches more than the seasonal average. This is likely a winter we’ll be telling stories about for many years to come.
Wherever I go, people always ask me about our Dismissal and Closure status. Our social media channels start getting busy with questions and comments days before a storm is ready to hit!
What many people don’t realize is that we prepare all year round for these kinds of events. Whether it’s an unexpectedly heavy winter weather season, an earthquake in August, or a Superstorm in October, we do all we can to make sure we are prepared for anything. Decisions may be hard and not always popular, but because we prepare, we barely miss a beat.
We consult throughout the year with our partners in this effort – the Council of Governments, the National Weather Service and transportation departments throughout the National Capital Area.
OPM’s guidance covers any natural disaster or event that disrupts commuting in the DC area. This includes not only snow and ice, but earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes or other special events that may occur during the year. Whenever these emergencies occur, OPM is committed to promoting the continuity of operations and ensuring the safety of its workforce.
One of the strongest tools we have is telework. During emergencies, teleworking is often the best option for continuity of operations. That’s why so much of our Dismissal and Closure guide helps agencies and employees understand their options and flexibilities.
We want to make sure that as much as possible, the weather doesn’t keep the Federal workforce from providing excellent service to the American people.
The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 helps us do that. The Act requires agencies to incorporate telework into their continuity of operation plans. OPM used the Act as an opportunity to highlight telework in our emergency announcements. We have been working with agencies to increase the use of telework, both regularly and during emergencies.
That effort is paying off. Federal employees are teleworking at an all-time high across the country. In the DC area, according to the Employee Viewpoint Survey, 70 percent of employees are telework eligible. Telework is the best option to keep the Federal Government working during the emergencies that prevent normal government operations.
Moreover, new technologies allow Federal employees to work from home, and I know most of you find ways to make up your work at no cost to the Federal government. As such, there is no good way for us to calculate with any accuracy the cost of closing Federal government building.
Each year, OPM reviews its guidance and discusses lessons learned with its interagency working group and labor unions. These discussions ensure that OPM’s announcements reflect the current needs of the Federal workforce. Over the past several years, we’ve worked unscheduled leave and telework into nearly all of our status options so that you have the flexibility to make the right decision for you and your family.
We follow up our consultations and engagement with the interagency and union stakeholders with videos, guidance, and other materials to help inform Federal employees. Througout the year, we also encourage Federal workers to have preparedness conversations with their supervisors and agency leaders. And when in doubt, FEMA’s www.ready.gov is the one stop shop for general preparedness tips and information.
Now that we’ve (hopefully) seen our last snow of the season, let’s keep the conversation going. Talk to your employees, to your supervisor, and to your families about the plans that work for you. Let’s all think about this winter and learn from it. I know that together we’ll be ready for the next emergency that comes our way. After all, hurricane season is right around the corner.
We learned today that more than 6 million Americans have signed up for health insurance so far in the Affordable Care Act Marketplace.
This important milestone means that more than 6 million Americans can count on affordable, quality health care. It means they don’t have to worry about insurance companies refusing to cover them because they are sick or have a preexisting condition. It means 6 million Americans don’t have to worry about how they will pay a hospital bill if they or someone in their family gets sick.
In the past month I have been to Philadelphia, San Antonio, Miami, Houston and Phoenix to spread the word about the need for all uninsured Americans to sign up for health insurance, particularly Latinos, who have a higher uninsured rate than most Americans and more health risk factors.
At one enrollment site in Phoenix, 300 people had waited on line just on Wednesday to get signed up. And nationwide on Wednesday there were 1.5 million visits to healthcare.gov and the call center received more than 430,000 calls.
6 million is great. But our work is not yet done. We have four days left. We all need to spread the word to our friends, our families, our colleagues, our neighbors. Enroll in the Marketplace.
Tell them to go to healthcare.gov. Tell them to go to cuidadodesalud.gov. Tell them to call the 1-800-318-2596 call center 24 hours a day.
Let’s get everyone covered now!
I’m headed to Miami this weekend. We’re coming down to the wire for uninsured Americans people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act Marketplaces. I especially want to make sure that the millions of uninsured Latinos know the benefits of the new health care law and how they can enroll.
The deadline for signing up for this year is March 31. After that people without health insurance will have to wait another year to enroll. They’ll have to wait another year to benefit from the preventive care the Affordable Care Act provides for free. They’ll have to wait another year for the Federal financial assistance available to help people pay their monthly premiums. They’ll have to pay a penalty for not being covered.
So far more than 5 million people without insurance have already signed up for a plan. More than 10 million people have enrolled in private insurance or signed up, renewed, or found out they are eligible for Medicaid coverage.
In Miami on Saturday I will go to Palmetto Hospital in Hialeah where Enroll America is sponsoring an event to help people sign up for the Affordable Care Act Marketplaces. I want to salute Enroll America and all the other community groups across the country for the hard work they are doing in key states where large numbers of Americans are uninsured and need coverage.
After the formal event, I will join community organizers to go door-to-door in the community to explain to people the benefits of the new health law and tell them how they can sign up.
I need your help. If you are uninsured, enroll. If you have health insurance, talk to family members, talk to friends, talk to neighbors. If people have questions, there are navigators and online resources available to help. A call center is available at 1-800-318-2596, seven days a week, 24-hours a day. Consumers can get help in English and in Spanish.
Don’t forget. The deadline is Monday, March 31. It is so important to #GetCovered!
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