New Health Care System Rolls Out in Pasadena, Quietly

Published : Wednesday, October 2, 2013 | 4:19 AM

Pasadena Public Health Dept.’s Sabina Gutierrez spent much of the first day of “Obamacare” clearing up misconceptions about the new Affordable Care Act.

She also signed up applicants to Medi-Cal (that’s not new). She watched webcasts about the new healthcare system. The one thing she did not do?  Enroll people into the new health system.

Health workers such as Gutierrez are still waiting to get training from the state to become certified enrollers, said Letty Saenz, Public Health Nursing Manager for the Pasadena Public Health Department.

When will that happen? “Very soon,” says Gutierrez, who was unable to say precisely when.

Tuesday was the day the health insurance marketplace opened nationwide to consumers seeking coverage. Insurance bought during the enrollment period kicks in on January 1, 2014 and people without insurance next year can face penalties. Under the ACA more people became eligible for Medi-Cal, too.

Despite the partial federal government shutdown, health agencies continued to carry out the new health law.

It was business as usual for Gutierrez and workers at other local health care organizations Tuesday.

Gutierrez can help enroll clients into Medi-Cal but she doesn’t have the certification yet to help people shop for coverage in the new health insurance marketplace called Covered California.

“We’re taking names and numbers so we’ll be ready,” Saenz said. “We want to be able to start to enroll them,” Saenz said.

Young & Healthy, a local organization which serves uninsured children, is also gathering names of people who want to see a certified enroller. Mary Donnelly-Crocker, Young & Healthy’s Executive Director, said she wasn’t given a timeline as to when the training will be offered.

“We’re hoping it will happen fast,” Donnelly-Crocker said.

Starting Monday, a staff member from Chap Care will begin 5 days of training to become a state certified enroller, said Steven Abramson, Chap Care Marketing Manager. Chap Care is a non-profit community health center. That staff member will then train other clinic workers in the Pasadena area to become enrollers.

The Public Health Department will continue to work with agencies such as Young & Healthy and Chap Care to educate the public about the ACA and how they can get coverage.

Young & Healthy staff members are talking to various groups about the ACA and members of Chap Care are giving health insurance screenings to people at various events. The screenings show people what coverage they qualify for.

Donnelly-Crocker said she hopes to get 8,000 people enrolled in health coverage over the next two years. She said Young & Healthy would continue to serve as a safety net for low-income and uninsured people, despite what happens to the ACA or budget.

Around the state, phone calls flooded Covered California call centers and the web site was slow to load when users clicked on the “start here” tab, according to the Associated Press.

For more information on how to enroll, call the Pasadena Public Health Department at (626) 744-6068 or Young & Healthy at (626) 795-5166. Information can also be found at http://www.coveredca.org.

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