With tax season officially upon us, Orange County is once again offering the RSVP-VITA tax preparation service for low- to middle-income residents in need of assistance this year.
“VITA” is short for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. It’s a free program sponsored by the IRS. It begins in February in Orange and Chatham Counties.
You can find out if you’re eligible and make appointments either online or by phone. Visit OrangeCountyNC.gov/aging/VITA.asp, or to make an appointment by phone, call:
Orange County: 919.245.4242 (English)
Orange County: 919.245.2010 (Spanish)
Compass Center for Women and Families: 919.968.4610 (English only)
Chatham County: 919.542.4512 (Angel Dennison)
Chatham County: 919.742.1448 (Spanish)
From now through March, the Hillsborough Arts Council is offering walking tours of the town’s sculptures. The guided tour is called “Take A Closer Look”; it will focus on four of the six sculptures that have been on display since last April.
Tours begin at the Hillsborough Arts Council Gallery on N. Churton Street, at 1:00 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. The tours are free (though donations are accepted), and they last one to one and a half hours.
This weekend brings the third annual “Mixed Concrete” art auction to Chapel Hill, with proceeds to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Featuring local artists working with a variety of materials, the show runs from Friday to Sunday, January 24-26, at TRU Deli + Wine Bar on the corner of Rosemary and Henderson. There will be an opening reception on Friday at 7:00 p.m.
To see some of the art online or to donate to the cause, visit MixedConcrete.org.
If you’re still unsure about the new federal Health Insurance Marketplace, UNC Family Medicine is holding a “Health Insurance Enroll-A-Thon” on Saturday, January 25, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Officials will be on hand to answer questions and help you enroll.
The event will take place in the UNC Family Medicine Center at 590 Manning Drive. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit UNCFamilyMedicine.org.
The Orange County main library in Hillsborough is hosting an exhibition of folk art from January 24-March 24. It’s called “Road Trip: Folk Art from Mike’s Art Truck”—and it’s comprised of 20 pieces all created by self-taught artists.
Curators Greg and Karen Mack of Hillsborough will be on hand for a reception at the library on Saturday, February 1, from 2-5 p.m.
Orange County’s Department on Aging and the Friends of the Seymour Center are inviting you to attend a Celebration Concert honoring the memory of Pearl Seymour on Saturday, January 25.
The concert will take place at 3:00 p.m. at the Seymour Center on Homestead Road; admission is free. Immediately following the concert, there will be a reception and a silent auction, with proceeds going to benefit the Department on Aging and the Friends of the Seymour Center.
For more information about the concert, visit FriendsSeymourCenter.org.
Saturday, January 25, you’re invited to a free performance of actor Mike Wiley’s “Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till” at 2:00 p.m. in the Chapel Hill Public Library. The performance is co-presented by the library and the UNC Program in the Humanities, part of a community dialogue on the legacy of Jim Crow and its impact today.
There will be an audience discussion following the performance.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/weekend-oc-arts-concerts-tax-relief/
CHAPEL HILL – Open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act began on October 1, but many people have been dissatisfied with the sign-up process online.
The health care website has had a number of problems over the past month that have made signing up challenging, but Congressman David Price says that the health care website is going to be a valuable asset to many people.
“Many people are going to be depending on this and I’m confident that we will get it right, (though) I think the website problems are of course very regrettable,” Price says.
Although accessing the website has been difficult, people can visit the Piedmont Health Center in Carrboro to sign up, or even call the 24-hour hotline at 1-800-318-2596. Price says many people are working hard to get the website running right.
“We’ve got to get this website running and they’re working on it day and night. Reports I have had are that people are now getting through and that its improving day by day,” Prices states.
The Affordable Care Act website is only one of the concerns in Washington right now. Budget talks have begun in Congress and Price says there are many issues that will need to be reviewed.
“What are going to do about the fact that our tax code simply doesn’t pay our way? What about the long term future of entitlement programs like Medicare, social security? asks Price. “And what about the overly severe sequestration cuts, across the board cuts, that have already occurred?”
For more information about the Affordable Care Act, click here.http://chapelboro.com/news/national/affordable-care-actsigning-up/
CHICAGO – Millions of Americans will be able to shop for the first time today on the insurance marketplaces that are at the heart of President Barack Obama’s health care reforms.
The market places are opening in all 50 states, and the Obama administration hopes to sign up 7 million people during the first year.
The partial government shutdown will have no immediate effect on the insurance marketplaces because they operate with money that’s not subjected to the annual federal budget.
CHAPEL HILL - Sherry Hay, Director of Community Health Initiatives at UNC Family Medicine, says shopping in the marketplace will be similar to shopping for groceries at a supermarket.
“It’s just like looking at what items you would like to buy to feed your family. You can do that with health plans,” Hay says. “You can look at them side by side, and judge the benefits, the costs, and also see if you’re eligible for financial help.”
***Listen to the Interview***
Open enrollment ends March 31, 2014. Shoppers have until then to decide what plan they feel is best for them and their families.
Hay says there are some changes she feels Americans will be excited about.
“If you have a medical or pre-existing condition, you can get health coverage,” Hay says. “You will not be denied for that, as you were in the past.”
All Americans, with the exception of an exempt few, will be required to have health insurance.
Americans who can afford health insurance, but do not wish to purchase it will be charged a fine. There is financial aid available to eligible consumers. But not everyone has to purchase insurance through the federal marketplace.
If you already have health insurance through a private provider, you are not required to switch to the federal pool.
”It’s really important just to begin looking, and thinking, and pulling your information together,” Hay says. “The important thing is to really take charge and empower yourself.”
For more information about the healthcare marketplace, you can visit www.healthcare.gov.