AUSTIN (KXAN) — The job of getting the word out about enrolling in Obamacare will now mostly be in the hands of Texas non-profits.
Several groups are bracing for the burden after the Trump administration cut 90 percent of Obamacare’s advertising budget and around half of the budget meant to help people navigate through the process.
The administration insists the Affordable Care Act is collapsing. Over the past week they have defended the cuts saying the money spent was not getting the desired results.
The discussion comes as new figures from the US Census Bureau show Texas still has the highest number of people who are uninsured. One in every six Texans, more than 16 percent, are uninsured. That number has dropped 5.5 percent since 2013 — the last year before people faced penalties for not having insurance.
In Austin Tuesday, Joel Laviolette and his band Kupira Marimba played Zimbabwean music to a crowd at Whole Foods. Playing for 25 years, now with two kids, he chose to get insured.
“Because I’m getting older and I can’t play gigs every weekend all the time,” said Laviolette.
The Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, or HAAM, steered him toward Obamacare, where he purchases health insurance on the federal marketplace. Joel played during HAAM’s day long fundraiser. They hope to make half a million dollars to help musicians pay for healthcare and navigate the system.
“I’ve never had health insurance my entire life so finally getting in and having HAAM help me navigate that. It gives me a little more peace of mind,” said Laviolette.
In the wake of administration cuts, HAAM and other non-profits like the Children’s Defense Fund will have to work harder to get the word out and help people through the process.
Laura Guerra-Cardus with the Children’s Defense Fund said she just heard about the big cuts. “Not only is there a shorter time period but there’s also going to be less notices about it so it’s really up to us.”
“Simply by not knowing, people could lose their health care coverage or not renew in the plan that is more appropriate for them,” said Guerra-Cardus.
To enroll in Obamacare this year you’ll only have 6 weeks to do so, still on healthcare.gov from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15.