From the moment Enroll America was created, before a single American had enrolled in Affordable Care Act coverage, we had a clear mission and purpose: to serve as the rocket fuel to push enrollment into a stable orbit, and then to step back.
Through four enrollment periods of steady improvement and growth – and in the face of challenges ranging from a broken marketplace website to political attacks – Enroll America has led a coalition dedicated to helping Americans successfully enroll, and now the results of that are plain to see:
22 million people have gained coverage through the marketplace, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program since the Affordable Care Act passed, and the uninsured rate is at its lowest point in recorded history.
Last year, we announced an aggressive plan to embed our proven enrollment tactics in the local organizations that will do this work for years to come; and we said that once that process was complete, we would close our doors. That’s why we created the Get Covered Academy, which over the last two years has provided intensive training and coaching to more than 266 organizations representing 22 states.
Today, I’m proud to say that process has achieved its goals, and we’re ready to share details about how we will close our doors this year, while ensuring the torch gets passed to those who will carry enrollment forward.
To some people, it may seem counterintuitive to shut down after achieving so much success. But at Enroll America, we see this as a rare opportunity: to pioneer new ways to do an important job well, to build a coalition that will outlast us and any external challenges, and then to shut down deliberately and on our own terms.
So what does that mean practically? Our national teams in DC that handle things like policy, social media outreach, and communications will shut down at the end of April. A few of our state programs – some of whom still have critical work to do in their coalitions – will continue a few months longer, including Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Colorado, and Tennessee.
Our Get Covered Connector tool – which more than 390 assister organizations in 38 states used to offer more than 875,000 appointments to consumers during this latest enrollment period – will live on in the excellent care of our close partner Young Invincibles, a national organization that has been active in the in-person assistance community since the first open enrollment period and has expertise in managing digital tools and outreach. Young Invincibles will also continue to convene the national enrollment coalition. We’re already in the process of preserving resources by passing them on to some of our more than 6,700 partners across the country, and our friends at Families USA will host a national hub where some of our most important research, reports, templates, and fact sheets will live on. And the state enrollment coalitions we’ve helped to build are strong: in North Carolina for instance, Legal Aid of North Carolina, a leading member of the NC Navigator Consortium and a Get Covered Academy participant, will continue to coordinate with community partners and carry out a sophisticated data-driven follow-up program in-person and over phone.
How can Enroll America leave just at the moment when opponents of the ACA take office? The truth is, we’ve accomplished what we set out to accomplish – millions have enrolled, and the enrollment coalition is strong and well-prepared to continue the outreach effort. If leaders in Washington give them the opportunity, the enrollment coalition is now perfectly capable – even without our help – of continuing to build on and expand the enrollment success we’ve seen so far.
The fight now is in the political and policy arena, and that is a fight that other capable and dedicated organizations are better positioned to take on than we are. It would be a tragedy if our national leaders were to throw away the progress we’ve made, and take away life-saving coverage from millions of people. Already, reckless rhetoric and unserious proposals are sowing confusion and uncertainty, making it harder for assisters to do their jobs and for eligible consumers to get the coverage they deserve.
The stakes are literally life and death, and our political leaders have a responsibility to protect and expand the gains we’ve made. We understand that, our partners understand that, and most importantly the millions of Americans whose lives have been changed understand that. I have no doubt those Americans across the country will continue to stand up and make their voices heard in the months ahead.
Ultimately, it is those people whose lives have been changed will be our greatest legacy, and the reason I am so hopeful for the future. No matter what happens next, their lives – their family trees – have been changed forever. That is the best legacy we at Enroll America could hope for.
You can learn more about the history and legacy of Enroll America by reading “How Millions Got Covered: The Story of Enroll America, the Affordable Care Act, and the Enrollment Campaign that Transformed America.”