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Report on ALA ACA Session “Libraries & Health Insurance: Preparing for October 1″

Posted by on July 29th, 2013 Posted in: All Posts

By Terri Ottosen, Consumer Health Coordinator, NN/LM, SE/A region

The panel session Libraries & Health Insurance: Preparing for October 1 was presented at the American Library Association (ALA) annual meeting in Chicago on Sunday, June 30, 2013. Speakers included Jackie Garner, Medicaid Consortium Administrator; Susan Hildreth, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS); Ruth Holst, Associate Director of the NN/LM Greater Midwest Regional Medical Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago; and Kendra Morgan, Senior Program Manager at Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) WebJunction.

Susan Hildreth, Director of IMLS, stressed the partnership between the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and ALA. She urged public librarians to prepare themselves for the influx of questions they might receive about how to apply for health insurance through the new Health Insurance Marketplace, which is to assist people who do not have health insurance through their employers. IMLS is encouraging public libraries to partner with community health centers to provide resources to uninsured people in the community. Consumer Assistants (at state Health Insurance Marketplaces) can help public librarians in locating community and state-specific resources.

Jackie Garner, Medicaid Consortium Administrator, presented highlights of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In October, 2013, 90% of the currently uninsured will be qualified for discounted or free health insurance. is the primary website to find information about the Affordable Care Act. has a toll free number (1-800-318-2596, TTY: 1-855-889-4325) that is available 24/7 in 150 languages for anyone with questions about the ACA. Each state’s Health Insurance Marketplace provides information about the available health plans. State Marketplace locations, training materials, and other resources are available on the Health Insurance Marketplace website. Applicants must complete the appropriate forms (available on and as paper forms) during the open enrollment period (October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014). By the end of summer, 2013, each state will have Consumer Assistants; also known as certified navigators, in-person assistants (IPAs), and certified application counselors (CACs), who will engage in public education, disseminate information, and assist in enrollment. Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) will be funded to do outreach related to ACA.

Kendra Morgan, Senior Program Manager for OCLC Webjunction, will begin working on an IMLS-funded project with ZeroDivide, to produce an ACA toolkit for librarians, which will focus on small and rural community libraries. Once the toolkit is completed, the information will be disseminated via state libraries to local libraries.

Ruth Holst, NN/LM Greater Midwest Region Associate Director, presented an overview of NN/LM and a few slides about MedlinePlus, which included the Health Insurance topic page. MedlinePlus is a free, reliable source of good health information from government agencies, professional organizations, and partners that have been vetted through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Health Insurance topic page provides a number of resources to understand the ACA, with many links to’s latest educational information and learning tools. In addition, ALA has developed an ACA resource page that provides information on the role of librarians, key resources, and additional resources for providing health information.

Following the conference, ALA President Barbara Stripling released a statement explaining how the American Library Association and other groups, including the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), are working to ensure that librarians and the public are aware of information on the Affordable Care Act. IMLS has also awarded a grant to OCLC’s WebJunction to provide training support for this effort, with the first session scheduled for July 26, 2013. This session will be archived and made available that afternoon for future viewing. WebJunction has also begun developing an eHealth resource page to support library capacity to respond to patron health information requests.

The NN/LM Southeastern Atlantic (SEA) Region has developed a Libguide with information resources specific to each state and territory: This guide was adapted from the one created by Kelli Ham, Consumer Health Coordinator in the Pacific Southwest Region (PSR) of the NN/LM. I would like to thank Kelli Ham and Alan Carr of the PSR for allowing the SEA to repurpose their information into our ACALibguide. Suggestions are welcome for additions to this guide.

For further information, please contact Terri Ottosen (


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