Ventura County Star
By Hannah Guzik
October 31, 2013
Don’t be surprised if a stranger knocks on your door this week wanting to know whether you have health insurance.
Dozens of canvassers are taking to Ventura County’s streets this week to encourage uninsured people to sign up for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act.
“Every year we go out to the historically disenfranchised people of Ventura County, but this year is the first time in many years that additional services are available to people,” said Cameron Yee, organizing research director for the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, which is using its employees and volunteers to go door to door in Ventura, Oxnard and Santa Paula.
Across California, 30 other groups have partnered with California Calls to knock on doors and try to encourage up to 100,000 voters to register for coverage through the Affordable Care Act, the president’s signature health care policy. The grass-roots effort also is designed to connect with voters and encourage them to turn out on election days.
The push began Oct. 14 with a phone campaign, followed by canvassers who began knocking on doors in Ventura County on Wednesday. The effort will continue through Nov. 10.
“It is our priority that we educate and motivate these voters to sign up for health care and not get left out in the cold,” California Calls President Anthony Thigpenn said in a statement.
But some residents haven’t been happy about the canvassers promoting health care coverage.
“I’ve had some doors slammed in my face,” said Aurora Chavez, 20, an Oxnard resident who’s worked for the alliance for the past year.
Before the 20 paid canvassers hit south Oxnard’s streets Wednesday afternoon, Lucas Zucker, an alliance researcher and county organizer, gave them some advice about encountering people opposed to the health care law.
“If they’re, like, ‘I hate the Affordable Care Act; you’re ruining America,’ you don’t have to give them a flier, OK?” he said.
As Chavez and her canvassing partner, Luke Saucedo, 18, made their way through a neighborhood off Bard Street and Saviers Road, they had mixed success.
“This is my first day canvassing so I’m a little nervous,” Saucedo said as he approached a run-down house.
The resident, identified through voter records by California Calls, wasn’t home, so Saucedo went on to the next house on his list. For the first time this week, Saucedo and other canvassers are using smartphones to find houses, record information about visits and store contact information of residents who provide it.
Community organizers later plan to use the phones to send text messages to reach out to younger voters.
Following a script, canvassers briefly explain the health care plans and distribute information in Spanish and English to direct people to the state’s website, http://www.coveredca.com
, where they can apply for health insurance.
Walking through the 200 block of Bard on Wednesday afternoon, Chavez spoke with Ella Diego, whose husband lacks health coverage.
“He doesn’t have it because it’s too expensive,” Diego said in Spanish. “I got the flier for him because he’ll hopefully get it now.”
About a block away, Saucedo knocked on Peter Hernandez’s door. The 21-year-old CSU Northridge student works part time but is uninsured. He said he plans to look into the Affordable Care Act.
“It could definitely help me and a lot of other people in my situation,” he said.
About 50 volunteers will be knocking on doors during the next two weeks, primarily focusing on low-income neighborhoods in the county. The canvassers will be in south Oxnard and Santa Paula on Saturday, then Ventura’s west side on Sunday. After that, they’ll spend Monday through Wednesday in south Oxnard before visiting Santa Maria on Nov. 8. They then will head back to south Oxnard on Nov. 9-10.
Chavez said her job hit home this week when she told her parents that the Affordable Care Act might save her family money on health insurance.
“They didn’t know anything about it, and so I actually told them, and they went to the page (online) and saw that it was cheaper,” she said. “So I’m helping them sign up, too.”
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