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Louisville NAACP Targets African-Americans As Health Insurance Deadline Looms

The Louisville chapter of the NAACP plans to expand efforts to enroll African-Americans in health care coverage before the Jan. 31 deadline.

During a news conference Tuesday, local NAACP President Raoul Cunningham said the Affordable Care Act has been beneficial to African-Americans in the state.

"It is a very important aspect for people of color and minorities, the poor, and poor whites who have not had the benefit of health insurance," he said. "It's quite important that they have access."

State government doesn’t have reliable figures on enrollment of minorities through the exchange, but nearly 19 percent of African-Americans in Kentucky were uninsured before the first enrollment period began in October 2013. State officials estimate 86,000 African-Americans in the commonwealth are enrolled in Medicaid today.

Cunningham said the state's recent decision to discontinue advertising for its health insurance exchange, Kynect, is concerning.

A contract with Louisville advertising firm Doe Anderson, the agency responsible for marketing Kynect, was not renewed after it expired Nov. 30. On Dec. 18, the agency was told to cancel pending advertising.

In his budget address on Tuesday, Gov. Matt Bevin again said he would work to dismantle the state's health care exchange. Earlier this month, he notified the federal government of his administration's plans to end the service.

The NAACP has partnered with black media organizations in Louisville and Lexington to run advertisements about the impending deadline. The Louisville Defender, WBTF-FM, WLOU-AM, WLLV-AM, B96 and Magic 101.3 have joined the NAACP in targeting African-Americans who may be uninsured or looking to renew coverage.

Cunningham said NAACP branches in Hopkins, McCracken and Hardin counties in Kentucky, as well as Scott County in Indiana, are also helping with expansion of the enrollment program. The organization is also reaching out to churches and other community organizations for assistance.

Cunningham said the NAACP opposes Bevin's plans to dismantle Kynect, and they are concerned about his proposed changes for Medicaid expansion. More than half a million Kentuckians have obtained coverage under the ACA expansion.

"We want to see what his specific proposals will be because it will have a detrimental impact on the entire state," he said.