White House encourages students to sign up for healthcare


Jenny Gonzalez

Eligibility workers Lizette Nieto (left) and Cindy Monarrez (right) held a booth at Falcon Square for Department of Public Social Services on Tuesday, Jan. 17. Enrollment Counselor James Kim (far right) assisted students with questions they had regarding Covered California. Photo credit: Jenny Gonzalez

Jenny Gonzalez

At a time when the fate of the nations healthcare is up in the air, the students and falculty of Cerritos College have yet to give up hope.

Over break, the college in conjunction with the Active Minds club has decided to participate in the White House Healthy Campus Challenge.

According to www.whitehouse.gov, “The goal of the Challenge is to reach uninsured individuals on your campus and in your surrounding community by engaging students, faculty and staff, campus administration, alumni, local community leaders, and elected officials… the […] challenge is a joint effort between the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education.”

Active Minds Club is working closely with Student Health Services to demonstrate the importance of students, faculty and staff having a healthcare provider extending the resources to the communities Cerritos College serves.

Steven La Vigne, Active Minds Chapter adviser, states, “College students are so busy, and we wanted to do our part in bringing awareness to Covered California and the state’s Medi-Cal program.

“Personally, I simply wanted to do my part in helping our students thrive and present them with opportunities to stay healthy. Our health plays a critical and vital role in our academic success, and having the opportunity to have access to health care is very important.” said La Vigne.

Hillary Mennella, Associate Dean Student Health & Wellness, states, “SHS works very closely with Active Minds as we are collaborative partners that support the efforts of California Community Colleges Chancellor’s (CCC) Office Student Mental Health Program and California Mental Health Services Authority; we were notified of the challenge by the CCC in late October 2016.

“Dr. LaVigne, the club adviser with Active Minds, and I teamed up to plan and facilitate a campaign to bring Covered California reps to our campus to make enrolling for affordable healthcare easier and accessible for students. The reps are here to answer any questions about the program and to enroll students for healthcare coverage on site.”

A Covered California booth was placed inside the Student Center for students to sign up, initially at Falcon Square, but were forced to relocate due to the rain. According to Mennella, there was a lack of advertising of the challenge but she hopes a change in weather will allow more students to sign up.

La Vigne expressed that he and Mennella were informed of the challenge through “the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Student Mental Health Program (CCC SMHP) website […] CCC SMHP is a statewide student mental health program being implemented within the California community colleges.”

Mennella expressed, “We are hoping to generate a lot of student interest because it is so important to have affordable healthcare coverage; one accident and trip to the emergency room can leave an individual in a mountain of medical bill debt… It is also very important to establish a long-term, personal relationship for preventative and secondary care with a primary care provider and/or mental healthcare professional.”

La Vigne states “Covered California representatives also began providing classroom outreach presentations in December. We resumed outreach activities day one [ Monday, Jan. 9 ] of the spring 2017 semester to continue presenting this opportunity to our students.”

Mennella mentioned that Covered California is ensured through the 2017 year.

The number of applications submitted is yet to be determined.