Going Door-To-Door for the Affordable Care Act: Notes from the Field

“I’m from Health Care For All and I’m not selling anything.” We’ve lost count of how many times we’ve used this line to start a conversation about the Affordable Care Act. We often find ourselves exclaiming to people outside of work: ”Did you know that more people will get help paying for health insurance or that more people now qualify for Mass Health because of the ACA?” Since October, HCFA has been working with the Massachusetts Health Connector and various community based organizations around Massachusetts to spread the word about the ACA. Our outreach and organizing team has trained canvassers and accompanied them to knock on doors to explain how the ACA will affect people here in Massachusetts.

Alex Weiner going door-to-door

Alex Weiner going door-to-door

Our experiences from training canvassers and accompanying them door to door have been so positive that we thought we’d share our reflections with you. It turns out people really appreciate the information we’re giving them and want to know what the ACA is, how it affects them, and what their health insurance options are.

We met one woman, for example, a few weeks ago whose boyfriend had his leg amputated and was in the hospital again for a second leg amputation. She had numerous questions about her coverage and we were able to follow-up with her to answer her questions.

We are just starting this effort – we kicked off the canvassing effort in late October by knocking on doors in Lynn. As we go along we will periodically share our “notes from the field” with you so you can get a sense of where we are at in our campaign to knock on 40,000 doors by March 31st.

So far, we’ve knocked on 6,000 doors and have spoken with people from all walks of life – from fisherman in Gloucester and people from Moldova living in Greenfield. Once people realize they can trust us and that we’re only there to make sure they have the necessary information to navigate the system, they share their healthcare stories and experiences with us.

Here are just some of the Community Based Organizations we’re partnering with:

Pittsfield – Berkshire Community Action Council
Fitchburg – Cleghorn Neighborhood Center
Framingham – Latino Health Insurance Program
Worcester – Oak Hill Community Development Corporation
Florence – Casa Latina
Greenfield – Community Action!
Lynn – Lynn Economic Opportunity
Worcester – Centro Las Americas
Gloucester and Plymouth – Fishing Partnership

Our job, in partnership with the Health Connector, is to reach out to individuals in those regions which are not covered by health care “navigators,” to let them know about their options under the ACA. This means, for example, that we have not been going (and do not plan to go) door-to-door in Boston, but we will be going door-to-door across the state in other communities. The communities we are visiting represent a real cross-section of the state. We are focusing our efforts on people most likely to need help paying for health insurance.

Stay tuned for more updates from the field.

–Alex Weiner and Amanda McIntosh

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