Obama to Visit Dallas Affordable Care Act Volunteers

Coalition of religious organizations helps North Texans sign up

A Dallas County effort to help residents maneuver through the Affordable Care Act has attracted the attention of the White House, and President Barack Obama plans a visit this week to say thank you.

Dallas Area Interfaith, a coalition of religious organizations, produced a bilingual brochure and help community meetings in conjunction with Dallas County officials.

"We want to spread the word and get people signed up," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said. "This insurance is a good product at a good price, and there are ways to sign up other than sitting at home and working with the website."

Parkland Hospital counselors are helping people sign up in person.

On Wednesday, the president will visit Temple Emanu-El on Hillcrest Avenue at Northwest Highway in Dallas to meet DAI volunteers in person.

"It's not a perfect law, but what we do understand is that, sometimes, things that aren't perfect," Rabbi Asher Knight said. "You can work for, to try to make a better world, and that's been the focus of our congregational work for 140 years."

An Oct. 17 rally at the temple included people from many Dallas County religious organizations.

Donald Parish, True Lee Missionary Baptist Church pastor, said too many people in Dallas rely on the Parkland's emergency room for medical care but also find signing up for the new program to be confusing.

"I've just been trying to share the information and encouraging people to be patient," he said. "At the end of the day, this process is going to work, and we all will benefit from it."

Cynthia Stubbs Loera was among the first people to visit Parkland Hospital on Oct. 1 for help signing up for the program the moment it opened.

She has pre-existing medical conditions that blocked her from finding affordable health coverage in the past. She hoped to find coverage that would end her fear about the expense of illness.

"There's people who are terrified about being sick," she said. "I guess I was one of them for a long time."

A Parkland Hospital counselor helped her fill out a paper application that day because the Healthcare.gov website was not working.

But, as of Friday, Loera had not received the return telephone call she said she was promised when she left Parkland on Oct. 1.

"We are going to make sure that she hears back," Jenkins said. "She's going to hear back from my office and from Parkland."

On Tuesday, officials with Parkland Hospital contacted Loera. According to those officials, Loera told them she lost her paperwork that should have been mailed in. Phone calls to her from NBC 5 have not yet been returned.

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