Nonprofit groups in rural Nebraska say they're ready to start enrolling residents in the new health-insurance marketplace, despite the vast areas they have to cover.
The groups have turned to churches, libraries and food banks to address one of their biggest challenges: Spreading word that the marketplaces will open Tuesday for a six-month enrollment period as part of the Affordable Care Act.
The largest nonprofit, Community Action of Nebraska, plans to have 62 insurance "navigators" hired and trained to help with enrollment at its local offices throughout the state. Meredith Collins of Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska says her organization has held public meetings in McCook and North Platte. The group has hired a full-time insurance navigator to enroll consumers and trained staff in five of its 27 counties.
About 264,000 Iowa residents without insurance could benefit from the plan. While Iowa is not a state where political opponents of the law are trying to impede implementation, state officials say there is still work to be done to explain the law to the public. Not all the education, assistance and marketing efforts will be fully ready in Iowa on day one.
Sen. Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City calls it a "massive undertaking to educate Iowans."