Notes & Noticias: Get Covered!

Dear Friends,

This holiday season is a great opportunity to talk with friends and family about a pressing topic — access to health care.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed by President Obama and upheld by the US Supreme Court, is the law of the land. Now, it’s important for all of us to spread the word and talk about the benefits of this law that will provide all Americans access to quality, affordable health care.

December 23 is the first important deadline for this law, so when you’re visiting with relatives this season, ask if they’re covered. If not, I’ve got some advice about what they can do to get insurance.

Get Covered!

The Affordable Care Act is already making a big difference in the lives of millions of Americans.

Among the laundry list of benefits the law provides, the ACA prevents denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions ranging from cancer to acne, and requires health insurance companies to spend 85% of your premiums on actual health care.

It also enables the millions of uninsured Americans to access coverage. For those who have incomes below a certain level, there are subsidies available to help pay for it.

There are two big deadlines coming up, so make sure you and your family are prepared.

December 23: This is the deadline to sign up for coverage that begins January 1. You can continue to sign up after this date, but if you want coverage that begins as soon as possible, that is the deadline.

March 31: This is the deadline to have coverage, or potentially be assessed a penalty.

Unfortunately here in Texas, Rick Perry and the Republican legislature refused to expand Medicaid, which would have helped 1 million uninsured Texans access health care through the program.

However, there are still resources available to help.

Online: Head over to Healthcare.Gov, the website where you can make an account, shop for plans, and sign up for coverage. The site is available in Spanish at

On The Phone: There’s a 24-7 hotline to help you navigate the system, with operators available who speak over 100 languages. Call 1-800-318-2596.

In Person: There are enrollment assistance centers that can help you and your family sign up. Here in Austin you can go to 6800 Westgate Blvd, Suite 110. Their phone number is 512-534-0802, and the office is open Monday – Friday 8AM-8PM, and Saturday 10AM – 6PM.

For even more in-person options, head over to the “Local Help” section of Healthcare.Gov and search by zip code or city. You’ll find plenty of resources to help and answer your questions.

Too many Americans have suffered too long without access to quality, affordable care. This law changes that — and it’s our duty to make sure that our loved ones are enrolled.

Talk about it this holiday, and if you know people who need help signing up, make sure they get the information they need.

Coats for Kids

One of my favorite community events each year is the Annual Coats for Kids drive.

This past Saturday, over 34,600 warm coats were given away to thousands of families here in the community.

Winter coats can be expensive, and for families stretching to make ends meet, it can be difficult to provide them. I’m so appreciative of the efforts of the Junior League of Austin to make sure every kid can pick out a warm coat to wear this winter.

Thanks to everyone who donated coats, and the 2,900 volunteers who helped make this super event happen. I’ll be back next year, because every child in our community deserves a warm coat on a cold winter day.

Happy Holidays!

As always, I am thankful for your support, your voices, and your readership of Notes and Noticias. Have a wonderful holiday season, and I look forward to seeing you in the community.