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Peter's Blog: Bus Tour, Day Six

It’s the end of the road for the “Covered in Art” kick-off bus tour, but not for Covered California and our partners across the state.

Today we ended this first leg of the open-enrollment bus tour. We finished on a high note with stops in Santa Cruz, Salinas, San Jose and Oakland.

We opened the day with a visit to the Santa Cruz Women’s Health Center, which provides Santa Cruz residents with a medical home and a place where they can enroll in a health plan through Covered California.
Santa Cruz Women's Health Center
Dr. Casey Kirkhart spoke about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has made a huge difference in his patients’ lives. "The ACA saves money, families and lives. You can't say you're for children and families and be against the ACA."

Lemus Insurance Agency
Lemus Insurance Agency is a go-to Covered California enrollment center for the residents of Salinas and Monterey County. It was here that artist Jeremiah Kille painted a mural, which bears the bilingual messages “Choose health” and “Escoja salud.” Jeremiah is a Santa Cruz native who began his career as a custom surfboard builder.

Jeremiah Kille
There are 14,000 people in Monterey County who have insurance through Covered California. One of them is Mina Reyes, the owner of a local event-planning business. She currently pays $35 for her Anthem Blue Cross of California health plan, and right now she is shopping for next year’s plan.

Mina Reyes
Mina spoke at the Salinas event about the importance of having insurance to deal with whatever life throws at her. "I am looking forward to choosing a health plan that is right for me," said Mina.

City of Salinas Councilmember Tony Barrera

Next up was PHP Insurance Services in San Jose. This insurance agency has had great success enrolling the South Bay community so far during this enrollment period. They’ve already signed up more than 1,000 people, and are averaging 150 appointments per day for Covered California enrollments.

Assemblyman Ash Kalra urged the crowd to encourage friends and family to sign up. "Be part of this campaign … Let's talk to everyone about signing up. Let's make sure they know."

Franceska Gámez
San Jose mural artist Franceska Gámez was born in the Philippines and raised in the Bay Area. She spoke about her experience as the youngest of eight children with a single mother who worked three jobs to keep the family afloat.

"With this mural, I wanted to illustrate the connection between health, well-being and love. Health care should be accessible to everybody. It's one of the most basic necessities we need to ensure a brighter future.”

Franceska explained, “The heart in the mural is a symbol of hope, love and compassion."

East Oakland Youth Development Center
A stop at the East Oakland Youth Development Center was a great way to end the open enrollment kick-off bus tour. We got to see the progress on a mural outside the center by Max Martilla and Arrington West. Both artists are from the Bay Area. Their mural was inspired by the students at the East Oakland Youth Development Center. It depicts them playing basketball and painting the mural’s lettering.

Arrington West and Max Martilla
“This organization keeps kids busy, active and creative,” said Max. “That's very important for mental health.”

Rose Wilkerson
Covered California member and Oakland resident Rose Wilkerson shared her story about working as an independent contractor and not being offered benefits by her employer. With her Covered California health plan, she was able to get much-needed knee surgery.

“I'm very grateful for Covered California. I had COBRA, and it cost $1,500 a month. Who can afford that? Now with Covered California I pay less than $100 per month,” said Rose. “Find your local agent to help you navigate your options for free."

Assemblyman Rob Bonta
Peter V. Lee
As this bus tour concludes, I want to say thanks to all our partners who have hosted us during our journey across the state. While the initial bus tour kicking off open enrollment is over, we’ll be back pounding the pavement before the open-enrollment period ends Jan. 31.

In the meantime, we’ll keep encouraging consumers to take action now — before Dec. 15 — so their coverage can begin on Jan.1. and they can have the peace of mind that comes with quality, affordable coverage.