When four-time cancer survivor Julie Negrin saw the recent push to repeal and destabilize the federal Affordable Care Act, she said she knew she had to do what she could to sign people up.
As someone who credits the ACA, also known as Obamacare, with keeping her alive and her family out of bankruptcy, the Mercer Island resident knew how to navigate the sign-up process. So she mustered the strength she could, health permitting, and traversed the state in an RV to bring pop-up sign-up sessions to communities like Whidbey Island.
“I have one simple mission, and that is to help every day Washington residents sign up for the health insurance that they need,” Negrin said. “For many people, especially medically frail people like me, missing the newly shortened deadline can literally mean the difference between life and death.
“We should be making health care access easier for all Americans, not trying to destabilize the system by limiting access and sending American families into bankruptcy when one of their own gets sick.”
Negrin is bringing her mobile sign-up session to the Freeland Library from 3-7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5.
Negrin’s session will offer health care system navigators free of charge through the state’s Healthcare Plan Finder program to help interested parties sign up for the health care plan that best suits their needs.
There will be two navigators in attendance, although volunteer Maggie Cuevas says more are on standby in case there is a larger demand than expected.
There is also a pop-up session from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Camano Center on Camano Island. Negrin has also visited Wenatchee, Ellensburg and Cle Elum, and will take her RV to Tacoma and Seattle. Visit https://teamaca.org/ to track her trip.
According to Negrin and her team of volunteers, the mission of the pop-ups is to simply help as many people as possible get health care despite barriers, such as a shortened enrollment period.
“The priority is to just get people the healthcare they need,” Cuevas said. “If there was a Republican-led health care solution, we’d try to get people on that as well. We don’t see this as a political statement, rather on a very basic level providing a service.”
Negrin knows full well the importance of ACA enrollment. Without it, she says, she likely wouldn’t be alive today as she continues to receive treatment from earlier surgeries. Negrin has been diagnosed with four unrelated cancers and battled them all and lost four organs in the process. It left her needing continued treatment to aid her digestive system, some of which was removed. She claims the ACA helps her and her family pay the associated bills, otherwise they’d go bankrupt trying to foot the bills.
According to Cuevas, a recent Harvard study shows that medical expenses account for approximately 62 percent of personal bankruptcies.
Negrin said she plans to create a multi-county network of healthcare citizen advocates to respond to any changes or repeal efforts regarding the ACA. Before then, she’s racing to beat the sign-up deadline in Washington to register as many people as she can with hopes that others will reap the same benefits she’s had.
The deadline is Jan. 15.
“Part of the mission is to get the word out about different organizations and their resources, help link everybody together, brainstorm and find ways to share each other’s resources while we sign up people who need help figuring that out,” Negrin said in a video on her website.