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Linn Co. Healthcare Enrollment Ahead of the Curve

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- 7 months without insurance is 7 too many for resident Joseph Long.

I haven't had any money, so I've been just living with my injuries, Long says.

That's how long the construction worker has been unemployed, waiting for the next job to come around. He knows even if he gets one, it wont mean instant coverage.

Whatever that particular company has for an insurance time frame, I could be looking anywhere from two months to six months to a year without insurance, Long said.

So Long went to explore his options at the Eastern Iowa Health Center. Saturday was actually a part of a national healthcare enrollment push day. President Obama encouraged agencies nationwide to sign people up for healthcare.

Linn County's efforts to enroll people have already been praised by the President. Now the county is getting similar praise from the state, in the form of a letter from the State House of Representatives, thanking volunteers for their efforts.

Art Staed was among the state representatives on hand to deliver the letter.

Just another example of what the Linn County Partnership has been doing here, Staed said. Just really excited they've stepped up.

Saturday, volunteers signed up more than 60 people for healthcare. New healthcare enrollment is pushing past 6,500 in Linn County. About 5,600 of them qualify for Medicaid expansion.

Volunteers say it's all been a community effort.

Collaboration between various community agencies, and having regular meetings that we've been able to talk about strategies, says Rebecca Jacobs with Mercy Medical Center.

All of us coming together with one common purpose, it's very neutral, we're really just trying to help members of our community, says Jeni White with Unity Point Health.

That teamwork means efficiency - and shorter wait times for people signing up.

I got here at approximately 10:30, and 45 minutes later I was totally enrolled, Long said.

While still he has to wait a few days for approval for Medicaid, Long knows at least he's on his way to peace of mind.

You're not afraid that a catastrophic illness is not going to stop you from achieving your dreams in the pursuit of happiness.

Eastern Iowa Health Care says by the time they hit the open enrollment deadline for at the end of the month, they hope to have more than 7,000 people in Linn County signed up for healthcare.
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