Justine Kerfoot never intended to stay in Minnesota. But the Great Depression led her to the lodge on the Gunflint Trail and the wild spaces that would become her life. Britt Aamodt remembers the Woman of the Boundary Waters.
Minnesota Native News: Minneapolis Clinic Deals with ACA Drama in Washington
HOST: Lawmakers in Washington DC continue to debate repealing portions of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.
Meanwhile, in Minnesota, it’s open enrollment time for anyone who wants to buy health insurance through MNSURE…
that’s the state’s insurance marketplace funded in part by Obamacare.
Reporter Melissa Townsend tells us what that means for one clinic serving American Indians in Minneapolis.
REPORTER: Katelyn Mathany is the social services supervisor at the Native American Community Clinic - or N-A-C-C - in the Phillips neighborhoods on the south side of Minneapolis.
MATHENY: Our mission since the clinic was started was to serve the Native population regardless of their ability to pay. (:07)
Part of Katelyn’s job is helping patients sign up for health insurance.
MATHENY: I’ve been working with MNsure basically since their birth.
MNsure is the state’s health insurance marketplace funded in part by the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.
Katelyn says she fills out about 25 to 30 MNsure applications every week.
MATHENY: All of our patients, when they check in at the front desk, if they don’t have insurance the front desk will give us a call. We’ll usually go out and meet with the patients to see if they’ve ever heard of MNSURE or, just ask them a couple of screening questions just to figure out where we need to start. (:16)
She says she wants every patient to have health insurance before they leave the building!
MATHENY: Just because that could be a huge issue down the road getting prescriptions, if we are referring them to see specialists… we can schedule a lot of specialty appointments for patients if they don’t have insurance. (:10)
MNsure’s open enrollment period started November first and runs through January 15th.
Now American Indians enrolled ina federally recognized tribe can sign up for MNsure anytime of the year.
But… during this open enrollment period, Katelyn is seeing an uptick in the number of people coming in and asking questions.
MATHENY: Open enrollment is the time that they send in these renewal packets so we are getting a lot of people coming in with renewal paperwork help or just their insurance was shut off because they didn’t get the renewal in. (:10)
Katelyn says this is often the issue with patients she sees - they don’t know their insurance has been cut off until they come into the clinic.
She says a lot of patients are homeless or couch-hopping so they don’t have a stable address where they receive their insurance paperwork from the state.
Instead, they come into the clinic, find out they don’t have insurance, and some begin to panic.
MATHENY: We work with a lot of diabetics and obviously getting your insulin and diabetic medication can be life threatening if you don’t - if someone is told that they don’t have insurance, you can see the fear in their eyes, because that’s how they live, is off those medications. (:16)
She says her job is to sign them up for coverage and — to reassure them that everything is going to be OK.
MATHENY: We’ll put out the fire and help people out. Our goal is just to help the community. When there is so many other things going on, we just want to give them one less thing to worry about. (:12)
That’s been a little more difficult with all the rangling among lawmakers in Washington DC.
Federal legislators have introduced multiple proposals to repeal parts or all of the Affordable Care Act.
Katelyn attends monthly meetings in Minnesota for updates on the federal legislation but she says no one really knows what’s going on until it hits the news.
In the meantime Katelyn says she gets at least one panicked phone call a week from someone asking if she’ll still be able to take her kids to see the doctor.
Katelyn says she tries to reassure these callers.
MATHENY: Everything is fine, you’re insurance is great. If you have any questions, you can call me again and I can update you.
She says no matter what, the people here are her number one priority.
MATHENY: I mean it’s like - I have a job to do and that’s to serve this community no matter what changes do happen. (:12)
Centerstage MN 0138 – Alex Aldrich and Roma Di Luna
This week on Centerstage MN we’ll be joined in-studio Alex Aldrich for a Pick 3 MN Favorites. Alex is a young music enthusiast with a taste for underground MN hip-hop. And we’ll be talking with Roma Di Luna about their latest CD “Casting the Bones” – a hauntingly beautiful album of new ‘old’ music. Centerstage MN with Doug MacRostie showcases the talents of MN musicians every [day and time].