STANDISH – On Monday, Amy March, a volunteer marketplace navigator for the Portland-based Opportunity Alliance, was running through the basic provisions of the Affordable Care Act to an audience of five at Standish Town Hall.

“You’re the biggest group I’ve ever spoken to,” March said, a retiree who lives in Denmark.

March, who describes herself as a progressive Democrat who favors a single-payer, Medicare-for-all policy, has been fielding questions on the new health law since it rolled out late last year. She has spoken to about 100 people, many of whom live in Bridgton, about whether their access to health care has improved under the Affordable Care Act.

“We’ve got a health-care law now that really can help a lot of people and the problem is it’s very, very confusing and complicated,” March said. “The people who are most in need of it have a difficult time navigating it.”

The daughter of a foreign service officer, March grew up in China, India and Nepal. In 2012, she retired from her position as director of Even Start, a literacy program in the South Bronx for immigrant families, and moved into a home she inherited in Denmark.

March said that roughly 75 percent of the people she has spoken with will not be helped by the new law. According to March, healthy adults under the age of 65 who work seasonally or part time and make under $12,000 a year are not eligible for coverage under the new law, due to Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of the Maine Medicaid expansion legislation last summer.

“They’re so, so disappointed, because people hold this out as the solution to the problem,” March said. “Many people have gone for years without any health care. I spoke to a man yesterday who had suffered for 10 years because he pulled his back and he couldn’t work and he didn’t have any health care.”

Although March said she has been in two arguments with opponents of the law, most people she has talked to are excited about the new law.

“I have to say 99.999 percent of the people that I have had any relationship to have been extremely positive about this,” March said. “I mean they recognize the limitations, but in general people are very, very appreciative.”

March said that most of the problems people have faced involved glitches with Healthcare.gov, the now-notorious homepage for the online healthcare marketplace created by the law.

“Most of them are just stuck,” March said. “They don’t understand how it works. A lot of the people at the beginning got stuck, their applications would go around in circles. They wouldn’t finish it because there were so many glitches with the website. But now most people have no difficulty doing the whole process online, if you’re computer literate at all.”

March said that her experience working with impoverished New Yorkers helped turn her into an advocate for universal health care.

“My only concern is that people get health insurance, because I worked for 30 years with poor people in the south Bronx, and I know what it means to have no health insurance,” March said. “They suffered terribly. Ever since they started talking about a health system that meets the needs of everybody, I was all for it.”

March welcomes phone calls, and can be reached at 452-2493.

Amy March, a volunteer marketplace navigator who lives in Denmark, fields questions about the new health insurance law last Thursday at Standish Town Hall. 


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