W. Curtis Thomas Philadelphia Representative Launches Comprehensive Obama Cares ACA Sign Up Workshop

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

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State Representative W. Curtis Thomas 181st District, Philadelphia, PA
Thursday, January 9, 2014 marked the beginning of a series of workshops for constituents in the 181st Legislative district of Philadelphia. Representative, W. Curtis Thomas, cognizant of the fact that his constituents were up against some serious challenges in gaining access to the needed insurance to foster health and wellness, launched the program to give them one on one interface opportunities, as opposed to trying to maneuver the computer systems.

His rationale, a sound one, but one obviously overlooked in other areas and municipalities, is simply this: “Not everybody has a computer; for those who do, it may be a little more challenging than they are accustomed to, and so they'll not follow through, and there are so many of our seniors who never have and never will own a computer. The other problem is that few, if any are aware of the libraries that may have computers, and so many of the libraries in our areas don't have hours that are conducive to working people.”

Add to those the problem of having a *rep-ugly-con (*republican – for the uninitiated) governor, and you can see that it's compounded exponentially. The Democratic legislators, elected officials and community organizers are waging a battle against the penchant they have for trying to deprive the needy, while simultaneously trying to pad the pockets of the greedy.

The event, which was hosted at the African American United Fund Conference Center, 2231 N. Broad Street inPhiladelphia, was extremely comprehensive, with Representatives from Resources for Human Development (RHD), serving as Obama Care Navigatorsk on hand with the requisite computers to make it possible for them to register on the spot.

So, in addition to it being an information gathering opportunity, Thomas is making every effort to ensure his constituents don't leave without the proper coverage.

Though the target was his 181st district, he stated he was not turning anyone away just because they resided in another area. “Affordable health care is a challenge that needs to be addressed regardless of where they live,” he quipped.

In speaking to the residents, he also stated that most of the dearth of services occurred in the 25 and 22nd police districts – which was also an area with higher than normal crime rates; and an area that he and his staff, will be focusing on in the future.

Like so many other legislators, Thomas' district had been hit by rep-ugly-con dominated gerrymandering over a period of time in order to water down his effectiveness in serving his constituents. However, those actions proved futile, as he has consistently provided comprehensive, quality service and information over the decades.

He also stated that the current governor had introduced legislation to reduce health care for people aged 12 through 55; and reduce the CHIP (children's health insurance program) so that it covers children ages 0 to 18. He is trying to reduce it to age 12, and if he can get away with it, to age 6!!! This would leave a dearth of health care for the most vulnerable.

We have over 3000 reports of neglect and abuse every month, ' he stated. “And it takes action on the part of everybody. Some people think you can pray it away; or you can throw empty promises at it, and it will disappear. I don't and won't walk away. I used to get upset when people called me 'old head'. Now it's been changed to 'O.G' – which they say means a source of wisdom – so it's okay with me now.”

He is heartened by the fact that despite the governor's efforts, the new State Attorney General has vowed to keep the Affordable Health Care program affordable.

The important thing he wanted to be sure the constituents understood was the difference between market rate insurance programs under the Affordable Care Act, and those that were subsidized, for families who were either at or below the poverty level.

It's a major consideration when you realize that the price for affordable insurance, if you're gainfully employed, is relatively manageable, and is deducted from your salary – however, it's entirely different if the cost of the care is the same as the income you receive. With so many at that level, making sure they are enrolled in the correct program is absolutely necessary.”

The RHD Health Insurance Navigator Program, which was one of the presenters, featured Ms. Wendy Davis, program director, who explained the differences between Market and Subsidized programs. She indicated that there were several other navigator programs as well, some of which were authorized to do home visits for those seniors and elderly, and those operating under diminished capacity. Www.rhd.org, 855.668.9536.

Ms. Davis indicated that her organization was a comprehensive program that offered a myriad of services in the greater Philadelphia area, including job training and opportunities. They had been given a grant and a temporary contract to assist with the enrollment roll out. When I asked why it was temporary, with so many people needing assistance, it seemed rather short sighted on the part of the government.

Each workshop participant was provided with a hard copy of the enrollment form for the ACA, and the facilitator went through it point by point. A few constituents came with the required documents and were enrolled on the spot. Others received comprehensive information on how to choose an insurance plan and how to enroll. A representative from the PA Department of Public Welfare was on hand to discuss the expanded Medicaid plan and eligibility requirements.

According to Representative Thomas, Philadelphia has one of the highest population of senior citizens of any major urban area. He indicated that he would be offering additional workshops on the 20th and 28th of January, and on through the end of March if necessary to ensure, to the extent possible, that his constituents had every opportunity to enroll. He looked to enlist the assistance of the local churches as well in getting people enrolled.

I know that there are many who are embarrassed to admit that they either don't own an computer, or that they don't understand how to enroll. Some may not even know we're offering these programs, so we'll be doing some door to door canvassing of the area to make sure that they are aware and participate.”

There is a distinct learning curve in filing forms online, and those who have not had the advantage of computer training should check in their respective communities or with their legislative representatives to find out when and where workshops are being offered in their communities. This is as important in New York as it is in Philadelphia; in DC as it is in Oklahoma City; in California as it is in Mississippi; in Atlanta as it is in Ohio – you get my drift. This is a nationally comprehensive law, and the law of the land must be upheld and implemented.


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Regardless of where you are, who you are, what race, age, or gender you are – you need to enroll for comprehensive insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Representative W. Curtis Thomas is a shining example of a legislator who cares about his people and their well being. He is walking his talk.

And, while I'm sure there may be others, we all know that there are just as many who could care less – especially in repuglycon dominated states. However, there are just as many in Democratic states who are taking things for granted, and overlooking the fact, that for all practical purposes, many of their constituents are relatively computer illiterate – or don't possess computers at all. Just because we see them on TV and in the movies, does not mean that everyone has one at home, or that they know how to use them.

As a constituent and a part of WE, THE PEOPLE, you are each empowered – individually and collectively - to demand that they provide you with the information and services to make it possible for you to receive the information on a face to face basis, so you can enroll in an informed manner. Whether you have a computer or not, they should be facilitating you with the services you require.

Now is the time to request this – it will be March 31 before you know it. Contact the office local, state or government representative, and request (demand) the assistance be provided you.

It's your life, your health, your country, your government, your city, your state, your representative(s) - they're either working for you or against you - there is no neutral.  2014 is the year where the rubber meets the road. It's time to take out the trash - those who don't have your best interest at heart - and you can see that through their good works - or lack thereof - have to go.  And those who are, make sure you back them up. - (c) 1/14/14/GDWENTERPRISES ###
Stay Blessed &
Gloria Dulan-Wilson


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