No Paul Bunyan, But Health Law Education Efforts Ramp Up In State

Sep 24, 2013

The Fuller Public Library in Hillsborough hosts book groups, a story hour for preschoolers, and the occasional knitting workshop.

Also on the calendar this month? An hour-long presentation on the Affordable Care Act.

“Tonight, this is probably going to feel like you are drinking from  a fire hose,” says Kelly Clark, State Director for AARP New Hampshire.

She runs through a slide show for a group of about two dozen residents. It touches on all the main points of the law: the exchanges, the mandates, subsidies, and Medicaid.

AARP is putting on 25 of these events at libraries and churches. Clark says they’ve been well-received, even if she can’t answer every question.

“We don’t have all the definitive answers, so sometimes we don’t have the information because we are, in some ways, we are building the bridge as we are walking over it at the same time, so that can be a little frustrating for people,” says Clark.

AARP aren’t the only ones out there fielding questions. N.H. Insurance Department officials are also hitting the road, putting on events aimed at brokers, doctors and providers, as well as small business presentations.

There’s also this radio ad from N.H. Voices for Health geared toward families.

But compared to other states, New Hampshire’s education campaign is pretty low-key.

There’s no musician-led push like in Oregon.

And no Paul Bunyan on water skis like in Minnesota…

But New Hampshire’s efforts may soon get more horsepower, including $5 million worth of federal money. The grant had been blocked by Republicans, until the Insurance Department found a way to redirect the funds.

Boston-based Public Consulting Group will now coordinate a state-wide marketing and education campaign.

“Really the important thing to note in all this is that October 1 is kind of the start line,” says Aaron Holman with PCG. “It is definitely not the finish line. We’ve got time to get folks educated.”

But critics of the law like Republican State Senator Andy Sanborn predict the end result of all the marketing and the new health law itself will be confusion and frustration.

“I think we are going to have an exceptionally difficult next twelve months with people not really understanding all of the requirements and all of the mandates, and now, the limitations of implementing the ACA,” says Sanborn. “People are going to be upset.”

At the AARP event in Hillsborough, Gene Moore isn’t upset. The 68-year old came to learn more about a law that won’t even directly affect him.

“I personally don’t need it,” says Moore. “I get VA coverage and my wife is on Medicare. But, like a good Dad, I have a notebook and I write all the answers.”

And he offers this advice for those still with questions.

“Just keep looking...if you don’t ever find it, then you never found it, but you know you did your part.”

Some Obamacare wisdom from Gene Moore, Hillsborough, New Hampshire.