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If you are getting the sense that there is a whole lot of variation in the format, content and provenance surrounding essential library staff-specific information about the Affordable Care Act, then you have read the scene accurately!  Before you throw up your metaphoric hands, reach for your mine pick and/or shovel, or take to your bed with an affordable headache, let's break this down into approachable chunks. Today we'll look at webinars:


Yes, there are webinars surfacing in abundance online. And yes, you and public library staff with information and referral duties are going to have to attend more than one or two in order to get your Affordable Care Act (ACA) knowledge skills up to your library community's needs.


So, start with what we already know is out there and has California library staff's viewing name on it. Oh, and mark your calendar:


September 9 will arrive with an essential and California library staff friendly guarantee.  At noon that day Kelli Ham and Barbara Bibel will bring us all timely and well evaluated information on how to Get Covered @ the Library: Affordable Care Act Resources for Libraries. As with all Infopeople webinars, if you absolutely can't make it to the live webinar, you will still be absolutely able to view the archived presentation very soon after the live broadcast (or as soon as you get back to your desk).


Both the Federal government, under the auspices of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the California state government, under the auspices of  the California Health Benefits Exchange, offer library staff accessible and helpful webinars as well.  Here's what you can expect to tap from these resources:


CMS offers three webinars specifically geared to the audience of "in-person consumer assisters." While being called an "in-person consumer assister" isn't exactly either a friendly or transparent title, rest assured that the term as used here does include library-based community and general information providers (I call 'em library reference staff). These webinars are, of course, national in focus and so references to regulations and mandates are at the national federal level of regulation and policy. They are archived on the referenced site page and there are some upcoming live sessions still scheduled.


ACA  has a lot of Federal-State flexibility built into it. That means that a webinar from a federal government resource can't address the particulars California is applying at some of those points of flexibility. However, these webinars from CMS go far in introducing the basic underlying structure of both healthcare consumer and  small business employer responsibilities and rights. There are no scary math formulas but there are clearly presented illustrations of such new healthcare insurance terms as "metal levels" (No, this term refers to neither Van Halen, nor to lead and mercury). These webinars are also where you can begin to refine your understanding of how applying for government subsidized healthcare coverage is changing.


And then, from California's government and quasi-government agencies charged with fulfilling ACA's programmatic details, Covered California (coveredca.com/) and the  Health Benefits Exchange (http://www.healthexchange.ca.gov/Pages/Default.aspx) are important resources for library staff who need to learn our stuff. By the way, a librarian word of caution: two commercial domains have already done excellent jobs of mimicking the California government URLs in this paragraph, so double check your address box and make sure you aren't relying on Coveredcalifornia.com or Californiaexchangeplans.com.


It's at the Health Benefits Exchange, for instance, that you can start getting up to speed about what small business employers in your area may be asking. You might also want to choose some new features for a library page you have to serve such small business information needs.


All in all, there's a whole lot of webinar-ing going on. Kelli and Barbara's is a great place for you to begin!