Public libraries will soon be partnering with the Department of Health and Human Services to help educate and enroll Americans in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), The American Library Association announced on Sunday.
“About 7 million people are expected to sign up for coverage in the new marketplaces, but the heavy emphasis on web-based portals will put anyone without access to a computer at a disadvantage,” American Library magazines explains.
Because public libraries offer free internet access, millions of Americans will depend on them to enroll in Obamacare. Employees at said libraries are also being asked to help walk patrons through the process of signing up for the President Barack Obama’s landmark health care bill.
Nearly 17,000 libraries will be enlisted in the effort, the Washington Times reports, adding that “libraries will be particularly important in conservative states that are not making much effort to promote the health law’s opportunities.”
“ALA and the US Department of Health and Human Services announced an agreement on June 28 to disseminate information about the new opportunities, especially an ‘apples-to-apples comparison among competing insurance plans,’” American Library points out, citing Jackie Garner, Medicaid consortium administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Garber “suggested that libraries stage awareness events to get the word out,” the report adds.
The program will offer toolkits and webinars to help prepare for the explosion in Americans looking to sign up via public library internet.
However, according to Institute of Museum and Library Services Director Susan Hildreth, “there are no federal funds to support this program.”
This may pose a serious problem for libraries that already struggle with budgetary issues.
Hildreth “encouraged libraries to seek partnerships with other health organizations in their communities and set aside at least one or two public-access computers for the exclusive use of healthcare seekers.”
But, as National Review Online notes, there may be a problem even bigger than tight budgets:
This agreement between the ALA and the Department of Health and Human Services violates the so-called “Library Bill of Rights,” which declares that “libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues” and that “materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.”
The partnership essentially dictates that librarians blindly lead those seeking healthcare to the welfare fountain and encourage them to drink – no matter the consequences, and no matter the myriad of concerns raised about the program. “All points of view” about the Affordable Care Act will not be represented; the proscribed materials (HealthCare.gov, marketplace.cms.gov, etc.) will clearly not offer true “health care literacy.”
Let's recap things: Despite a lack of funding, public libraries are being asked to deploy their resources to help educate and enroll people in the president’s health care law – and this may actually be a violation of the Library Bill of Rights.
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(H/T: WZ). Featured image Getty Images.