BALTIMORE — Baltimore Ravens linebacker Lardarius Webb is taking part in an advertisement to help people find out more about getting help to enroll in health insurance.
Webb will be joining state health officials and advocates on Wednesday in Baltimore to highlight radio ads that will run in the Baltimore metro area.
They will be joined by people who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act to discuss how people in the region can get the health coverage they need.
It’s Not All Bad: Some Good News About State’s Health Insurance Exchange
WYPR, Fraser Smith Essay
March 20, 2014
We in the news biz are often accused of caring little about any news that’s not bad news.
That’s not true, but the nature of things works against us. There’s a lot of bad news out there, and covering it is our job.
To give the matter more immediate context, some might say, ‘enough already’ about the botched health care launch. Who hasn’t botched something in a computer, after all?
More importantly, people are finding their way through the cyber-wreckage. We are a resilient people, and many of us need coverage – badly. The high cost of care and the high cost of insurance are busting family budgets, leaving people with worry that may lead to even more difficult health issues. Worry and stress, we know, are not healthy.
You could ask any number of Marylanders, 43,000 of whom have found a way to overcome the hassles of signing up. Another 194,000 signed up for Medicaid, another target group not easy to find and enroll.
What we learn from all this is something we already know: life happens.
Take Nancy Hughes, for example. She lost her job because of a lack of transportation and because of that, lost her health insurance shortly thereafter. Fortunately, there was something called Healthcare Access Maryland. In the process of negotiating the system – with the help of a navigator – she learned she was eligible for Medicaid. The navigator also helped her find a primary care physician. She calls the help “a blessing.” Any of us would, given serious health problems, the difficulty of finding care and a way to pay for it.
The advocacy group Health Care for All has found a lot of Nancy Hughes-like stories. Good news stories.
WJZ-TV (CBS), Pat Warren, 3/19/2014
BALTIMORE(WJZ)—Ravens star cornerback Lardarius Webb voices his approval of affordable health care in a radio ad designed to encourage people to enroll by the March 31 deadline.
Pat Warren has more on the rollout at the Park West Medical Center.
With time running out, the Maryland Health Exchange steps up its game with a NFL play.
The Ravens cornerback encourages Marylanders to use the state’s 2-1-1 call center, an end-run, so to speak, around the flagging health exchange website.
“Pass this 2-1-1 number along to your friends and family. It is very important,” Webb said.
Unlike the website, the call center gave Barbara Gruber a human navigator.
“The card came in the mail. I carry this everywhere. This is better than a birthday card,” said Gruber, newly insured.
Small businessman Jamal Lee has his own affordable health care story.
“My wife almost died a little while ago, and I found her on the floor dying. I picked her up, called the ambulance, took her to the hospital and she had emergency surgery right there on the spot. We didn’t have to think about where to go. We didn’t have to think about whether she’d be covered or whether it was going to be concern or an issue, nothing like that because she got the coverage,” Lee said.
As for issues with the website, Webb sets his sights on the success.
“I realize all the negative, but there’s a lot of positive things around them and that’s what I’m jumping on board with,” Webb said.
As of March 8, nearly 41,000 Marylanders had signed up for private health care plans.
In addition to those private plans, nearly 200,000 Marylanders have enrolled in Medicaid.
WBAL-TV(NBC), Lowell Melser, 3/19/2013
Webb joins health care advocates at the Park West Health System on Baltimore’s Belvedere Avenue.
Health advocates are hoping Webb can get people to sign up for health insurance as he will now be appearing in radio ads in Baltimore.
Officials on Wednesday also said that Maryland may turn to Connecticut to help get its website back on track.
Health advocates from around the state made Webb the face and voice of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange’s push to get people to sign up for health insurance.
Considering the poor rollout of the program, which organizers don’t deny, Webb said he’s not worried about his reputation getting caught up in the negativity.
“I realize that, all the negatives but there’s a lot of positive things around and that’s what I’m jumping on board with, the positive,” Webb said.
Webb, along with health advocates are pushing for the uninsured to call 211, a hotline that connects callers to Health and Human Services at all hours.
But the pomp and circumstance surrounding an appearance by a huge Raven still couldn’t hide the fact that a lot of work still needs to be done when it comes to the benefit’s exchange. In fact, because the exchange has worked so poorly, the General Assembly has created a joint oversight committee to keep an eye on progress.
“As you know, there were challenges at the beginning and we’ve made a lot of improvements in the website,” said Carolyn Quattrocki, interim executive director Maryland Health Benefits Exchange
Quattrocki revealed for the first time Wednesday that officials have talked to representatives from a number of different states, including those from the very successful Connecticut program in hopes of creating a better website.
“One of the options, among others that we’re looking at would be transferring the software from another state to our Maryland system and Connecticut is one of those states we’ve been looking at,” Quattrocki said.
Health advocates want to make it clear that 211 is not a replacement for the website, rather another channel for people to get help.
It’s still unclear just how many people have signed up to date.
WBALTV.com Editor Saliqa Khan contributed to this story.
Last modified: March 26, 2014