CHP Will Assist with Open Enrollment for ACA Insurance Starting Nov. 1

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GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Beginning Nov. 1, the open enrollment season begins for Massachusetts residents covered by ACA health insurance plans.
 
The Community Health Programs insurance enrollment team is available to assist consumers with questions, plan changes or new enrollments.
 
Open enrollment runs through Jan. 23, 2022, but ACA customers are urged to review their plans in November to begin their process and avoid any lapse in coverage.
 
Many covered by Affordable Care Act plans are automatically re-enrolled in their existing plans. But anyone with questions about coverage or anyone wishing to change plans must do so during this enrollment window to remain covered in 2022.
 
State residents without insurance, including new residents, may also apply for new coverage.
 
The CHP insurance enrollment team can assist without charge. It is not necessary to be a CHP patient to use this service.
 
"We want to help people avoid any lapse in coverage, and to get the best possible coverage," said William Cruz, lead patient navigator for insurance enrollment at CHP. "We can help anyone who needs assistance."
 
Cruz said the federal American Rescue Plan Act provides subsidies for ACA monthly insurance premiums, but that many ACA enrollees are not aware of this extra financial benefit.
 
Residents covered by ACA insurance plans will be receiving mail reminding them to re-enroll. Renewal and new applications require certain paperwork and updated proof of income, and while this process can be completed online, not all have reliable internet, and the process can seem complicated.
 
CHP has four patient navigators who can assist area residents with re-enrollments, or new applications. Navigators also help people figure out if the plan they have is adequate for themselves and their family.
 
Massachusetts state law requires that all residents have insurance or face a state tax penalty. Income eligible residents can receive ACA insurance, for which premium payments are subsidized with government funding.
 
Patients who receive their health coverage through the Berkshire Fallon Health Collaborative (MassHealth) are not subject to the open enrollment season requirements; their coverage can be altered at any time during the year.
 
Those in need of assistance may contact the CHP insurance enrollment team at email enrollment@chpberkshires.org or call 413-717-6268.
 
Applicants also have the option of renewing or enrolling online at mahealthconnector.org.
 
CHP's insurance navigator team is supported by a two-year, $150,000 grant from the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority.

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MDAR Commissioner Marks 'Green Friday' at Seekonk Tree Farm

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Seekonk Tree Farm was selected for the annual 'Green Friday' pronouncement. MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux traveled to the family-owned farm to present Peter Sweet Jr. and family with the state proclamation encouraging state residents to buy their greenery local.

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — State Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux traveled to Seekonk Tree Farm to celebrate "Green Friday" with the cutting of a Christmas tree.  The day is meant to encourage residents to source holiday plants from local farms.

Lebeaux presented the owners of the farm, the Sweet family, with a proclamation that marked Nov. 26 as Green Friday and outlined the many benefits of their line of work.

This includes adding $3.5 million to the state's economy each year with the sale of about 83,000 trees, providing a renewable source of energy when burned, producing biomass and removing carbon dioxide from the air, and providing stable refuge for wildlife.

"We try to rotate every year and it was the Berkshires turn this year," Lebeaux explained.

The farm has been in business since 1979, when Peter Alden Sweet Sr. married Carol Joan Wright. With the help of a $50,000 grant from MDAR, the family was able to build a gift shop/workshop that was completed about a year ago.

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