BROWNSVILLE, RGV – Brownsville leaders and healthcare advocates are making a big push to get residents signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, with four enrollments fairs being held in the city on Saturday.

The City of Brownsville, Get Covered America and the RGV Healthcare Marketplace Enrollment Network are connecting Brownsville residents to free, in-person enrollment assistance at the four sites. The biggest of the four events takes place at Valley Baptist Medical Center on W. Jefferson in Brownsville, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

According to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, Cameron County has an estimated 109,378 people who are uninsured and under the age of 65—that’s 1 in 3 people in the county.

The Rio Grande Valley has some of the highest rates of uninsured in the state: in fact, the census tract with the highest uninsured rate in the state is in the Valley (it includes Starr County, though not Cameron County – but Cameron County’s rate is also among the state’s highest).

Rick Perez, healthcare administration resident with Valley Baptist, said his organization is ramping up efforts to educate uninsured residents on how to secure affordable healthcare coverage. Valley Baptist has launched a “Path to Health” outreach campaign designed to inform and educate residents on how the changes implemented in the healthcare law will impact them and what they can do to secure healthcare coverage.

The purpose of Path to Health, Perez said is “to reach out to our community and enhance its education concerning the federal healthcare exchange while providing personalized enrollment assistance as needed.”

During the information sessions at Valley Baptist, Perez added, specially-trained bilingual staff members from the medical center, along with experienced navigators and certified application counselors from other community organizations, will be available to answer questions and help residents enroll for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act,

Valley Baptist plans to hold a similar event at its hospital in Harlingen on March 15.

“The ‘Path to Health’ campaign is working with several community partners and offering educational materials and resources to help Valley residents better understand the insurance exchanges and the Affordable Care Act,” added Daniel Listi, vice president for Valley Baptist Health System.

“This comprehensive campaign seeks to break down the barriers of the complicated law, and provide user-friendly guidance and tips on what community members should know, in order to make sure they are prepared to choose the best coverage for themselves and their families … as well as provide one-to-one assistance with enrollment.”

The other three ACA-linked events in Brownsville on Saturday are being held at Brownsville Public Library, Southmost Branch Library and the Brownsville Community Health Center.

Here are the locations and times of the enrollment fairs:

Valley Baptist Medical Center, 1040 W. Jefferson, Brownsville – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Brownsville Community Health Center, 191 E. Price Road, Brownsville – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Brownsville Public Library, 2600 Central Boulevard, Brownsville – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Southmost Branch Library, 4320 Southmost Road, Brownsville – 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“We want Brownsville residents to know about the financial help and tax credits they can get to help them get covered now, before the March 31 deadline,” said Jose Medrano, field organizer for Get Covered America in the Rio Grande Valley.

Medrano said residents planning to enroll this weekend will need to know their annual income, have photo ID and be able to provide social security numbers or immigration numbers for all enrolling individuals in their household.

The big push is happening because March 31 is the deadline for Valley residents to enroll for health insurance through the Affordable Health Care Act.

For more information, on Valley Baptist’s Path to Health outreach campaign, visit or call toll-free 1-866-893-8446.