Op-ed: Sign up for ACA by Dec. 15

State Rep. Jason Dawkins encourages patients to sign up for the Affordable Care Act before the window closes.

By State Rep. Jason Dawkins

The Affordable Care Act’s enrollment period is now open and closes in less than a month on Dec. 15. I fear many people in our neighbors and communities in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania are unaware of that — and it’s unacceptable.

Underserved communities face many roadblocks with health care and the challenges read like a lengthy shopping list. There is a lack of qualified local physicians in our neighborhoods, an absence of health-related knowledge in our school systems, and an enormous dearth of community resources to help promote better health. I have walked the streets of my district and seen the absence of ample green space and the lack of full produce sections in grocery stores. Given this obstacle course of challenges that stands to impede public health, the absolute least we must do is to ensure that all are given access to health insurance.

I have seen the prevalent health problems in my community. I’ve seen individuals struggling with a multitude of health problems — from type 2 diabetes and severe obesity to heart disease and hypertension. While in many cases these conditions are untreatable, they can be managed with access to quality health care. It is unacceptable for Pennsylvanians to struggle with illnesses without any help or resources. Our prerogative must be making health insurance more accessible, not hiding it away and allowing premiums to skyrocket.

I challenge anyone to tell me what possible benefit can come from less advertising and awareness of the Affordable Care Act. Can anyone defend these actions and say that our communities would be better off without Obamacare? When Washington chooses not to educate our communities about the ACA, people are being robbed of their chance to receive health insurance and health care.

I will continue to speak out in support of the Affordable Care Act. Since my first day in office, I pledged to be a voice to the voiceless. Everyone deserves health insurance. As a nation, we cannot afford to think any other way. ••

State Rep. Jason Dawkins represents the 179th Legislative District in Philadelphia.