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More than 80 percent of uninsured El Pasoans not eligible for Obamacare

 By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- Thousands of El Pasoans left without health insurance are pointing fingers at President Barack Obama and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, marketplace navigators in the Borderland said only about 16 percent of El Pasoans who needed health coverage were eligible for it.
We estimated from the 178,000 uninsured residents (in El Paso County) we probably were only going to help no more than 24,000 because those 24,000 were actually living above the poverty level, said Roy Ortega with Project Amistad.
Ortega said most people that are below the poverty level werent able to get help because they couldnt afford to pay for an insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act and were exempt from getting coverage. It's something Ortega called a tragedy.

The intent of Obamacare of course is to try to get vastly more people insured, said Ortega. 

Many El Paosans left uninsured are now speaking out.

"I work, make minimum (wage), and I didn't qualify. But they told me, great news, you will not be fined. Wow, I would rather have insurance. I am 45, Serpil Kurnaz wrote on the KFOX14 Facebook page.

A long list of similar comments filled the KFOX14 Facebook, with people not only blaming the Affordable Care Act for the situation theyre in.

"I didn't qualify because of income and since Texas doesn't have Medicaid for my age group I am out of luck for insurance," wrote Delores Kelly.

Medicaid is what a lot of people are talking about since Gov. Perry didn't expand the program, leaving even more people uninsured.

Theres not really a whole lot else that can be done when you see an individual who only earns $5,000 a year and a health insurance policy is going to cost them $5,000 a year. (It) doesn't make any sense.  They can't afford it, said Ortega.

Ortega said the only options left for people who are exempt from Obamacare because they didn't make enough money and they don't qualify for Medicaid is to work with University Medical Center, which is the county hospital, or an area clinic.

For people who are uninsured because of their low income and don't know what to do if they get sick or injured, they can contact Project Amistad for help.

We as a resource center we are able to give them all kinds of information and explain the various options to them and we have a staff of very capable people who are experts at that, said Ortega.

To contact Project Amistad either call them at (915) 532-3415 or stop by its office at 1359 Lomaland Drive, El Paso, TX 79935.