Local 'Navigator' program ready for Obamacare enrollment

POSTED: 03:17 AM MST Dec 24, 2013    UPDATED: 12:42 PM MST Jan 16, 2014 
EL PASO, Texas -

On Oct. 1, enrollment begins for health care insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Applicants will be assisted by local organizations that have received federal grants to help people understand their options and help with the enrollment process. These "navigators" have exactly four weeks to get ready.

One local organization, the La Fe Clinic, told ABC-7 Tuesday they were not even prepared to speak about the situation. But another, Project Vida, granted an interview and said they will be ready come the end of the month.

"I know there will be (some issues)," said Arturo Robles, Navigator program coordinator for Project Vida, which recently received a more than $100,000 government grant to help people enroll in the affordable care act, or what some have called Obamacare. "I have two (on my staff). Three with myself. So we're ready for it."

Despite his small staff, Robles is confident with the help of training later this month in Austin his team will be prepared to properly enroll El Pasoans in the program.
"I think it's a nervous smile," Robles said with a grin. "I'm trying to stay as confident as possible. Honestly, I think we're ready."

Robles said they are already setting up computer terminals at clinics like Project Vida's in Central El Paso for people to enroll come Oct. 1.

"We're working everything through our three clinics," Robles said. "We have computers set up and they'll be able to apply and we'll be there to help them through the process."

As for the privacy concerns about the Navigator program raised by State Attorney General Greg Abbott, Robles had this to say:

"I'm working with my team on that to make sure that we don't have any issues with that because it is going to be a key," he said. "It is going to be something that people are going to be looking at."

Robles added that the training in Austin later this month will include a session on making sure to protect the personal information of those who enroll. He admitted that nobody in the Navigator program is 100-percent prepared for what's to come, but they will do the best they can and make sure to be as informed as possible by the enrollment date.