October 2, 2013

Few Mainers sign up for insurance in person, but interest is high

Tuesday, the first day of the Affordable Care Act, was a key test to see if people will enroll.

By Joe Lawlor jlawlor@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Emily Brostek, left, assists Jesse Miller of Portland to learni about health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday October 1, 2013. Brostek works at the Consumers for Affordable Health Care offices in Augusta.

Andy Molloy / Staff Photographer

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Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer With the health insurance marketplace open for business, an attendent at an informational event at Bell Buoy Park in Portland on Tuesday, October 1, 2013, holds a graphic explaining how the new marketplace works.

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Lewis said the MCHO web site had 600 unique visitors checking out the enrollment page, but he doesn’t yet know how many completed enrolling. The other insurance provider, Anthem, did not immediately have numbers of enrollees on Tuesday afternoon

At the Portland waterfront, officials and health care advocated hosted an event touting the ACA’s benefits.

Christie Hager, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services official helping to implement the ACA, struck a defiant tone at ceremonies marking the opening of the health insurance marketplace on Tuesday at Bell Buoy Park.

As Hager spoke, the federal government was in the midst of a shutdown that started Tuesday over attempts by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to delay the start of the Affordable Care Act. Democrats, who control the U.S. Senate, have blocked efforts to weaken the ACA.

But Hager said even though the government is shut down, the funding is for the ACA in protected, and people will still be able to sign up for health insurance on the marketplaces.

“The health insurance marketplaces are open for business,” Hager said to applause from Portland Mayor Michael Brennan and about 50 others in the health care industry. “The administration will not support any efforts to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act.

Hager told the Press Herald after the event that it’s puzzling to see so much opposition to a law that helps people improve their lives.

“It is hard to comprehend how people can be opposed to this law,” Hager said.

Brennan said when he found out he had cancer a few years ago, his insurance kept him financially solvent.

“The care I received, every citizen in portland deserves, and every citizen in the state of Maine deserves,” Brennan said.

Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or at:


Twitter: @joelawlorph

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Additional Photos

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Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer With the health insurance marketplace open for business, Outreach Specialist Libby Cummings, at Portland Community Health Center, answers questions on the phone about the new system on Tuesday, October 1, 2013.

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Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer With the health insurance marketplace open for business, outreach specialist Christian Bisimwa (R) of the Portland Community Health Center, trains volunteer Cyndie Smith of Westbrook to deal with inquiries from the public about the new health insurance system on Tuesday, October 1, 2013.


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