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Health

Affordable Care Act open enrollment deadline is today, as repeal looms

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Today is the open enrollment deadline for anyone who wants to sign up for private health insurance through New York’s marketplace program called the New York State of Health. Navigators with ACR Health in Syracuse continue signing up individuals for health care plans, in the shadow of a potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

This is the fourth open enrollment period for New York State of Health. During that period, ACR Health of Syracuse has signed up 30,000 individuals into health care plans in a nine-county area through its navigator program. This year they’ve already signed up 1,000 in part because of concerns over the future of the program, which executive director Wil Murtaugh says has been life changing.

"It’s transformed the clients that we serve," Murtaugh said. "We serve people that are poor and don’t have insurance. And they can come in and get Medicaid and we can get them to a primary physician instead of going to an emergency room which is the highest form of care. So, it’s very frightening what our clients could lose.”

Murtaugh says the debate in Washington to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act keeps his agency in a kind of limbo as far as what’s happening in the future.

"Repealing would mean we’d lose the funding, have to lay off the staff, and have to reapply and start over again, however they want to roll out," Murtaugh said. "And I’m not so sure they’d want community based organizations to do this again as well. I’m not sure.” 

This year, officials say they’ve seen more individuals who lost insurance through their jobs, a big number of unemployed persons, and in the last couple of months there has been a large number of people with mental health issues signing up for health insurance.