Navigators work to get patients signed up for health care

By Alicia Booth - Reporter/anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It's now two days after the Obama administration's self-imposed deadline to fix, and now that the White House says the site is working well, it's crunch time for navigators and other volunteers in northeast Florida to get as many people signed up as possible.

Other people though are saying an improved website is not the cure for what ails the Affordable Care Act.

At a strategy meeting Monday among various northeast Florida organizations charged with getting people insurance through the website, the mood was upbeat.

"The website is getting better and better every day," said Joyce Case, program director for navigators. "It's actually much faster. We're finding that we're able to get applications submitted in a really quick turnaround time frame."

The Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida can't say how many people it's been able to sign up, but it did say things are looking up.

"We actually had one of our navigators get insurance two weeks ago," Case said. "So they seem like small successes, but this website is working fabulously for us."

Others involved in health care are not so optimistic.

Dr. Jeff Jacqmein, a family doctor in Jacksonville, said the website problems associated with the Affordable Care Act are just the tip of the iceberg, and all the uncertainty is making many of his patients uneasy.

"I think it's the stress, just the stress of everything," Jacqmein said. "Am I going to be on a plan? Am I going to have insurance? Am I going to be able to afford it? Once I do get on a plan, are the things that I'm hoping to get taken care of going to be covered?"

Jacqmein is a member of the online grassroots physician group He said he doesn't know from one day to the next what to tell his patients about their insurance or even whether they will still be able to see him.

Patient Daniel Musselman said the Affordable Care Act has him upset and angry.

"It's going to affect my children and my grandchildren and my great grandchildren, and we're not very happy about it at all," he said.

Opinions aside, the ACA is the law, and the heat is on to get as many people signed up as possible, especially those who need new insurance by the beginning of next year.

"The 23rd of December is our big day, and we're going to try to get as many people into our enrollment events and onto the website and get their applications completed and submitted so that they can have coverage as of Jan. 1," Case said.

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