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White House to recognize Affordable Care Act ‘Champions of Change’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Friday, March 25, the White House will recognize ten individuals from across the country as “White House Champions of Change for the Affordable Care Act.”

These individuals were selected by the White House for their leadership and tireless work to ensure that individuals in their community are benefiting from all aspects of the Affordable Care Act. They understand the need to make quality, affordable health care not a privilege, but a right, and have taken action around the country to work toward solutions.

This week, on the six-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, we celebrate the 20 million more Americans who now, thanks to the law, have the security of health insurance. Last summer we learned that, for the first time ever, America’s uninsured rate has fallen below 10 percent. The ability to buy affordable plans on a competitive marketplace is giving Americans the freedom to move, start businesses and dream big, which is especially important as more consumers become entrepreneurs. And thanks in part to the law’s focus on reducing costs and inefficiencies, health care prices have risen at the slowest rate in 50 years since the law passed, which will benefit all of us for years to come.

The program will feature remarks by Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event will be live streamed on the White House website at on Friday, February 26, at 10:30 AM ET. Follow the conversation at #WHChamps.

Ana Maria Garza Cortez—San Antonio, Texas

Ana Maria Garza Cortez serves as Vice President of Development and Marketing for CentroMed, a Federally Qualified Health Center in San Antonio, Texas. She is responsible for marketing, public relations as well as outreach and enrollment. During the past seventeen years at CentroMed, Ms. Cortez has been an advocate for children and families accessing healthcare and promoting the awareness of Medicaid, CHIP and most recently enrollment in the Marketplace, a program of the Affordable Care Act. She was responsible for planning, implementing and promoting large scale enrollment events with funding provided by the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas and CHRISTUS Foundation.  She serves as a leader with the Enroll San Antonio Coalition, which is comprised of over 50 partnering agencies working to ensure all families have access to healthcare.

Shelbi Flynn—New Orleans, Louisiana

Shelbi Flynn is a fellow at the New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) and a Public Health Associate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During the 2015-2016 open enrollment season, Shelbi led NOHD’s outreach and enrollment efforts as a part of the city’s participation in the White House Healthy Communities Challenge.  Shelbi collaborated with dedicated community partners to coordinate the Mayor’s Barber Shop & Beauty Salon Healthcare Enrollment Challenge and New Orleans’ first Citywide Day of Enrollment, which featured enrollment events across the city. Building on the successes and partnerships formed in previous years, Shelbi’s work with NOHD contributed to the 40,737 new Marketplace plan selections made by New Orleans metro area residents. Previously, Shelbi supported NOHD’s Fit NOLA initiative, a collective impact project working across six sectors to promote physical activity and improved nutrition.  Shelbi is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she received a B.A. in Anthropology and Global Studies.

Rudy Gonzales—Denver, Colorado

Rudy Gonzales is the Executive Director of Servicios de La Raza (Servicios) in Denver, Colorado. Servicios is the largest one-stop culturally responsive, linguistically specific, community based human service provider in the State of Colorado. As a recent Medical Assistance site, and for the past six years, Servicios is one of the state’s highest performers in navigation and enrollment services for CHPS + and Medicaid. With a significant grant from The Colorado Health Foundation, Rudy led “Adelante con Salud,” a statewide media and education campaign to increase the knowledge and awareness of the ACA among Colorado Latinos.  Rudy also led the organizing efforts to establish the Coalition for Culturally Appropriate and Responsive Enrollment Services (CCARES), Colorado’s most successful ACA navigation and enrollment service provider primarily serving the monolingual and bilingual Latino community of Colorado.

Brian Hujdich—Washington, District of Columbia

Brian Hujdich serves as the Executive Director of HealthHIV and two coalitions managed by HealthHIV, the National Coalition for LGBT Health and Pozitively Healthy consumer coalition, in Washington, DC. Brian led the development of two ACA enrollment and engagement guides for two key populations: individuals living with HIV/AIDS and LGBT individuals. The guides address how to navigate the enrollment process, how to overcome barriers in finding HIV or LGBT health related culturally competent care, and how to fully engage in taking advantage of your health insurance. Brian leads social media efforts on multiple platforms to raise awareness of enrollment, addressing various aspects of the ACA from deadlines to process. He also led HealthHIV’s work as one of the in-person assister groups for the Washington, D.C. exchange, focused on LGBT outreach and health literacy.

Andrea Irvin—Atlanta, Georgia

Andrea Irvin serves as the Manager of Community Service and Bonner Campus Programs in the Bonner Office of Community Service and Student Development at Spelman College. In her role, Andrea is responsible for cultivating community partnerships with non-profit and community organizations. Upon meeting with the Georgia team from Enroll America, Andrea developed a program for Spelman students to volunteer with healthcare enrollment, resulting in helping more Americans gain access to healthcare coverage, and increasing the understanding that students’ have about their own options for coverage. Under Andrea’s leadership, Spelman College placed 2nd in the White House Healthy Communities Challenge HBCU Phone-A-Thon Call to Action, designed to raise awareness of the Affordable Care Act, coverage options and enrollment deadlines in states with large percentages of uninsured citizens. Andrea has over eight years of experience in working with community development and advocacy initiatives and previously served as the Director of the PACE initiative at United Way of Greater Atlanta, an Investing in Innovation grant from the U.S. Department of Education that focused on increasing student achievement outcomes from birth to third grade.

Elhadji Ndiaye—Philadelphia, Pennslvania

Elhadji Ndiaye serves as the Neighborhood Program Coordinator for the Philadelphia Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD). OHCD is the City of Philadelphia’s housing policy agency, and is responsible for the funding and support of housing and community development programs that benefit low- and moderate-income residents and revitalize neighborhoods. In 2015, Elhadji helped lead a partnership with BenePhilly to enroll Philadelphians in the Health Insurance Marketplace under the ACA.  Under Mr. Ndiaye’s leadership hundreds of community members learned about ACA and many signed up for a healthcare plan that met their financial needs.

Olivia Riutta—Missoula, Montana

Olivia Riutta is the Outreach and Engagement Manager at the Montana Primary Care Association (MPCA) in Missoula, Montana. The MPCA and their 17 member Community Health Centers serve more than 100,000 patients with comprehensive, accessible, primary care services. Ms. Riutta leads the Cover Montana project, including a statewide outreach and enrollment stakeholder coalition and a state-based consumer facing website and outreach and enrollment campaign. Under her leadership, Cover Montana and its partners have been integral in implementing the ACA, including Montana’s newly expanded Medicaid program. Previously, her work included organizing and policy advocacy on issues that impact low-income women and families.

Aakash Shah—Cliffside Park, New Jersey

Aakash Shah, MD, MBA, is the Founder and Executive Director of Be Jersey Strong. Be Jersey Strong trains and mobilizes student community health workers to address health-related social needs. During the third open enrollment period, Be Jersey Strong recruited over 500 student volunteers, two-thirds of whom spoke a second language with over 50 languages represented in total, to provide outreach and enrollment assistance in communities throughout New Jersey. Aakash is also an emergency room doctor-in-training. He obtained his MD from Harvard Medical School, MBA and MSc from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and BA and BS from Ursinus College.

Judith Solomon—Washington, District of Columbia

Judith Solomon is a Vice President for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a research and policy institute based in Washington, DC, which pursues federal and state policies designed both to reduce poverty and inequality and to restore fiscal responsibility in equitable and effective ways.  As VP for health policy, she helped lead the Center’s work on implementation of the ACA’s coverage provisions. A key part of this work is “Beyond the Basics,” which provides training and ongoing support to thousands of enrollment assisters and volunteer tax preparers across the country who in turn provide feedback on issues and barriers that arise in their work with consumers. Judith has worked closely with HHS, Treasury, and the IRS to come up with solutions to those problems.  Before joining the Center in 2005, Judith ran a children’s health organization and served as a legal services attorney in Connecticut.

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