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Richland Library seeing steady stream of applicants looking to sign up under ACA

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Time is running out for South Carolinians looking to sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

With exceptions for some consumers, the deadline is Monday.

One estimate says at least 56,000 South Carolinians have enrolled under the ACA. They are part of the 6 million or so nationwide said by the administration to have gotten coverage.

Mamie Drayton knows something about healthcare.

She worked in the field for eleven years, most recently as a certified medical assistant.

But after being laid off in 2009, she's now on a tight budget, and not sure whether she can qualify for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

That's why she's at the Richland Library, waiting to talk with an ACA navigator.

"I kept reading about it and procrastinated," Drayton said. "I'm excited and so finally said I have to get this done. It's getting close to my deadline and I don't want to wait until the very last minute."

The library has seen a steady stream of people like Drayton, at least a dozen on Thursday and about 15 the previous day.

Many like Mamie surprisingly unsure of their options, despite months of news stories and heavy publicity.

"They're really uninformed," said ACA Navigator Lee Patterson. "They come in and we do a lot of ACA education first and talk about what is more effective and what it means to them and whether or not they qualify. And then we go through the process. So they start out really uninformed. They leave with more information than they came in. A lot of them leave because they're excited they were able to get insurance. But we have a lot that leave that don't qualify."

Drayton said she is aware enough to know many of the state's political leaders have stood in the way of the ACA and Medicaid expansion.

She finds that troubling.

"People have lost their lives because of no healthcare," Drayton said. "People have died because of no healthcare. And now that something of such importance, such magnitude is being put in place, why would anybody in their right mind should be against that when the whole nation is suffering?"

A new Gallup report out Friday shows South Carolina with 18.7 percent uninsured.

That report says this state is among those where people struggle the most to afford healthcare but states that have worked to block and even nullify the ACA.

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