The Roanoke Valley Community Health Initiative is partnering with Hannah’s Place to hold a forum on The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and the health benefits exchanges from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Mystique Multi-Venue Complex on Highway 125 in Roanoke Rapids.

Nicole Dozier, with the N.C. Justice Center and the Health Access Coalition Team, will speak at the forum and answer question from community members about the Act, which goes into effect January 2014.

Dozier, who is the assistant project director for the team, has worked with the Justice Center since 1996 according to the Center’s website — bit.ly/14A8Jfo.

Currently her work centers around health care reform and outreach on the state’s affordable health insurance options.

“Nicole’s work has helped secure hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits for people living in N.C. with disabilities. She has also worked with Justice Center litigator on consumer class actions and other impact litigation,” Justice Center officials said.

Dozier said this forum is designed to help inform people about the Affordable Care Act and how it relates to them. She said many people have heard many things about the numerous topics the Act covers.

She said there will be information on items like wellness and how it relates to women and children, and people on Medicare. There will also be details on health benefit exchanges and tax credits.

She said many people know children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be discriminated against because of the Act, but there will also be changes in rates for women and seniors.

Dozier said there is an entire group of people who still won’t be able to purchase affordable health care.

“If this effects you or someone in your family, you need to speak up about it,” she said.

To reserve seats at the forum, call Dozier at 919-856-2146 or email nicole@ncjustice.org.

She is asking for reservations because she wants to be sure to have enough information handouts and refreshments for everyone.

“But they can come in without reservations,” she said. “Don’t let that (not making a reservation) stop them.”

Audrey Hardy, with Hannah’s Place and event coordinator, said there are too many people in the Roanoke Valley who need answers as to how changes in insurance and the Affordable Care Act will impact them.

“There are a lot of people in the community who don’t understand (the Act),” Hardy said, adding many people, especially 50 to 64 years old, don’t have insurance now because of issues like preexisting conditions, lack of funds or lack of insurance availability at their workplace.

She said others continue to work in lieu of retirement in order to be able to keep their insurance.

“While we want them to stay in the workforce, we don’t want them to stay just to pay for insurance,” she said.

Hardy said the Affordable Care Act, which begins January, may help many of these people become eligible, but they need to know how this Act will effect them and what their rights are.

She said this forum will cover the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, how Medicaid expansion would help, the new heath benefit exchanges and tax credits for individuals and small businesses.

Hardy said this is a free event, and anyone with questions about their insurance is welcome.

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