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Local leaders highlight area resources to help more citizens enroll in Obamacare

It's round two for the Affordable Care Act. The second open enrollment period starts at Saturday, November 15 at midnight and lasts until Sunday, February 15.

Ahead of the sign-up period, Milwaukee city and county leaders held an event Friday encouraging citizens to \"Get Covered, Stay Covered.\" County Executive Chris Abele said seven million more people across the country have healthcare now. Tens of thousands of them are in Milwaukee County.

The IMPACT 211 Call Center in West Allis plays a big role in the effort. Its goal is to give consumers a starting place for what can be an overwhelming and intimidating process. Call specialists can not sign people up for healthcare, but instead, they can answer questions and provide direct contact to a person who can fulfill specific enrollment needs.

Last year, call center employees answered nearly 15,000 calls during the open enrollment period. They expect it to be just as busy this time around, too, as many people have yet to take advantage.

\"They can do preventive things if they get the health insurance and that's what we want people to understand. That by getting it, they can do preventive things as well,\" said Nancy Johnson, community resource specialist. \"And so by calling us and starting the process, it really helps them.\"

The Obama Administration is vowing this enrollment period will go much smoother than last year's nightmarish roll out. Officials said the website, www.healthcare.gov, was tested for an extended period. There are also fewer questions on the application to make the process easier.

If you have questions and need help, dial 211. The call center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is also a federal hotline toll-free number, 1-800-318-2596. For a complete list of community enrollment and education events, visit www.mkehcp.org/MKEN.

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