State Network cosponsors ACA post-enrollment conference
By Brian Shott
Representatives from throughout New Jersey, including government agencies, advocacy groups, and industry experts, recently came together at the Carl A. Fields Center at Princeton University for a conference cosponsored by the State Health Reform Assistance Network (State Network) to discuss lessons learned from the recently completed initial open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This event was intended to identify best practices for these stakeholders as planning efforts continue for the next open enrollment period, which will begin this November.
Heather Howard, Director of the State Network and a lecturer at the Woodrow Wilson School and CHW faculty affiliate, participated on a panel discussion focusing on the successes and challenges of the ACA’s first open enrollment period, seeking to place New Jersey’s enrollment statistics within a national context by examining trends across the country. Noting that the primary barrier to coverage is cost, Howard argued that the strong uptake of tax credits available through the ACA by a vast majority of enrollees – 85% of enrollees nationally and 84% in New Jersey – represents a very encouraging sign.
The event also included a video presentation from outgoing U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, highlighting personal stories of Americans who have been able to obtain health coverage under the provisions of the ACA. Panelists throughout the day emphasized successful outreach strategies for reaching New Jersey’s diverse populations, the effectiveness of which were demonstrated by the state’s significant enrollment increases during the month of March and final enrollment exceeding original targets.
Other panel discussions during the conference honed in on various lessons learned from the initial open enrollment period, including a forum with public officials at the federal, state, and local levels, each of whom noted the unique ways in which their positions provide opportunities for the promotion of health coverage. Participants at many of the sessions noted the value of the conference in assisting future enrollment planning efforts.