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What’s next for Obamacare?

By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- While open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act is now closed it doesn't mean marketplace navigators in the Borderland are any less busy.
Rosalda Hernandez, one of seven navigators at Project Amistad in east El Paso, sat in her office Tuesday helping the uninsured get health coverage.
Now that open enrollment is officially closed until November the goal for Hernandez is to complete enrollment for the 389 people the agency helped get extensions. That number is not including the hundreds of other El Pasoans who received extensions through other agencies or on their own.
"They're being scheduled right now so that they can receive the assistance between now and April the 15," said Roy Ortega with Project Amistad.
Ortega said navigators with the agency plan to help about 700 people every day until April 15. 
Once everyone who took action to enroll under the Affordable Care Act by the March 31 deadline is covered, marketplace navigators will focus on another portion of the bill -- small businesses.
For businesses with more than 50 employees, under the Affordable Care Act they too have some big changes coming.
"Were going to shift our attention to providing outreach, education and enrollment services for small businesses between now and the end of this year," said Ortega.
In November 2014 Hernandez and the other navigators will go back to helping individual El Pasoans who didn't sign up for insurance this go around before penalties go up to $325 or 2 percent of a persons household income.
"It just keeps going up each year.  It increases up to the third year being 695 or the 2.5 percent of their income," said Hernandez.
Ortega said Project Amistad is already getting calls from people looking to enroll who didn't realize they missed this years deadline.  They will be out of luck until November.

Project Amistad is able to help individual El Pasoans and area business owners create an account on healthcare.gov and pick an insurance plan that best suits them because of a $383,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health.  The grant runs out January 2015.

Ortega said if the grant isn't extended navigators will be able to maintain their jobs with the agency if they want by helping out with other programs the agency offer.

For people who need help signing up for insurance after Project Amistad's grant runs out, they may need to find help elsewhere.