Have Questions About Healthcare Reform? The Los Angeles Public Library Has Answers

In an effort to help Angelenos navigate changes to the healthcare system and provide access to accurate information about health issues and well-being, the Los Angeles Public Library has launched “Health Matters” at all 73 city libraries.  This initiative provides resources, workshops and enrollment assistance to help people participate in the benefits available through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The resources and programs offered also focus on general health, well-being, and preventive care.

“We want to make it easy for Angelenos to navigate the new health care marketplace,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “That’s why L.A. is turning our 73 public libraries into health information hubs that will help people get affordable insurance plans to improve their health and well-being.”

“The Los Angeles Public Library is an institution trusted with connecting people across the city with the knowledge, assistance, and technology they need,” said City Librarian John F. Szabo. “Therefore, Health Matters is an opportunity to extend our mission to provide free and easy access to information, thus empowering every individual in our city to make educated decisions about their health and well-being.”

The California Endowment is committed to educating key communities across the state about the benefits of Obamacare and, by doing so, increase the number of children and adults enrolled in quality, affordable health coverage.” said Dr. Beatriz Solis, Director of Healthy Communities, Southern Region. “The only way to truly encourage enrollment is to collaborate on forward-thinking initiatives, like this partnership with the Los Angeles Public Library and Library Foundation of Los Angeles. By working together we can make health happen in our communities.”

Librarians at all 73 libraries have been trained to assist people in accessing information related to ACA and general health and wellness, and the availability of computer aides at each library will be increased to assist people who are uncomfortable with using computers to enroll or access information online. The Library, working with 21 trusted community partners, will hold in-person workshops on specific community health issues, place Covered California and Medi-Cal enrollment counselors in libraries, and offer programs that educate people about preventive care and well-being.

The Library’s health resources have also been expanded to include a dedicated health web portal connecting patrons to the Covered California enrollment site, crucial health information in the Library’s print and electronic collection, curated links to reliable sources of information on specific health issues, and a comprehensive calendar of programming at all 73 libraries.

The Library will also pilot a comprehensive health information and healthcare enrollment program to serve the particular needs of Chinese and Spanish speaking patrons at the Chinatown and Pacoima branches. Conducted by Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, Visíon y Compromiso, and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services, the program will provide targeted, intensive support to assist these communities in understanding their rights and responsibilities in new and expanded healthcare programs.

The education and enrollment assistance on the ACA will serve as a first step in the Library’s Health Matters campaign, which aims to provide active support to millions of people across Los Angeles in making informed decisions about their health, healthcare, and well-being.

Health Matters is made possible by generous support from The California Endowment, through the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. Pilot programs in the Chinatown and Pacoima branches are supported in part by a grant from UniHealth Foundation, a nonprofit philanthropic organization whose mission is to support and facilitate activities that significantly improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities within its specific area.

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