Education forum on ACA to be held

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, March 25, 2015

BELHAVEN — Residents of Belhaven and the surrounding area will receive information about the Affordable Care Act next week through a community conversation headed by the N.C. Justice Center of Raleigh.

The Educational Forum and Community Conversation: Affordable Care Act Meeting will take place at the Belhaven Civic Center on March 31, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

Adam Linker, co-director of a healthcare project at the N.C. Justice Center, said he and his colleagues have been conducting similar forums in different areas across the state and has been concentrating outreach to rural and underserved areas of the state.

“We’ve found that a lot of folks that are not near Raleigh or in the major urban centers don’t get a lot of information about healthcare reform and major issues debated in Raleigh,” Linker said. “So we want to come and let people know what is going on and get feedback from those people that we can include in our advocacy in Raleigh.”

Linker said among topics to be discussed at the forum will include enrollment and tax implications in the ACA and where people can access resources for help, as well as benefits of the ACA. The second part of the forum will include discussion about whether to expand insurance to more people through the expansion of Medicaid. Representatives with the Justice Center will also seek input from attendees in regard to that issue, Linker said.

The forum is being held in correlation with the healthcare issue that has been going on in Belhaven, Linker said. Linker has been working on the issue since it was announced that the hospital was closing and has been trying to pull together resources for the community to help alleviate some of the existing gaps in healthcare, he said. The Center has also been trying to troubleshoot ways to mediate some of the disagreements between the town and Vidant Health, Linker said.

“We’ve been thinking a lot about that community,” Linker said. “We think expanding health insurance is key to a successful healthcare center whatever it may look like or whoever is running it. To make it sustainable, we think you still need to increase healthcare access.”

Linker believes the increase in access is a big piece of the puzzle in restoring emergency services, as well as coming up with a viable plan to operate a hospital in Belhaven, he said.

“I think both Vidant and the mayor would agree that in making healthcare sustainable over the long-term in rural areas like Belhaven, you have to expand healthcare insurance access,” Linker said. “I hope we can get some community participation and we would like to try and make it a conversation so we can hear what folks are thinking and we can take that back to Raleigh and incorporate it into our thought process and advocacy in the Triangle.”

The Belhaven Civic Center is located at 257 W. Pungo St. in Belhaven. For more information, contact Nicole Dozier at 919-856-2146.