Covered California officials this week are on a bus tour across the state — stumping Thursday in La Habra and making multiple stops Friday in Los Angeles — in preparation for Saturday’s launch of the exchange’s second open enrollment period.
“It’s been an excellent opportunity to get the word out about open enrollment,” said Dana Howard, public information officer for Covered California who has been on the bus tour since it left Sacramento Nov. 10.
“What stands out to me is the reaction and response from people whose lives have been changed by having health insurance,” Howard said. “It may sound a little cliché, but it is stirring to hear these stories.”
For Howard, the biggest moment came on the first stop on the tour in the city of Petaluma.
“From a personal perspective, you know what you’re going to get in Sacramento, we know a lot of people in Sacramento. But you don’t really know how it’s going to go in other places, how many people will actually show up,” Howard said.
“But in every town, there were a boatload of folks,” he said. “It’s not just spin — you pull in, your eyes just open up and you go, ‘Wow!’ When we pulled into Petaluma for that first stop and it was standing room only there, you’re thinking, ‘What?'”
Howard said the large room for that first event was packed, with people out the door and standing in the hallway.
“And the same thing happened in Fresno,” Howard said, “and the same thing happened in Merced. It was compelling and it helped cement the idea, for me, that this is something that’s resonating with folks. It’s important to them.”
The bus tour will continue through early next week, heading next to Santa Barbara and the Central Coast.
Today’s event in Los Angeles on the eve of open enrollment is the largest affair of the bunch with Taiko drummers, dancers and other entertainment in the park across from Los Angeles City Hall.
The tour has included stops in Petaluma, Gilroy, Fresno, San Bernardino, Palm Springs, San Luis Obispo, Salinas, Chico, Redding, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.
“Folks have told me, ‘Without this, I don’t know where I’d be right now,'” Howard said. “They say things like, ‘This has saved my life.’ That’s the kind of thing you hear. It’s amazing.”