As the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) moves forward, new federal funding has been made available to help uninsured Americans understand their options, determine their eligibility, and obtain insurance coverage. Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced that $150 million will be made available to help community health centers provide in-person enrollment assistance to uninsured individuals across the nation.
With these funds, health centers will be able to hire new staff, train existing staff, and conduct community outreach events and other educational activities. They will provide information to consumers about health insurance, the new Health Insurance Marketplace, qualified health plans, and Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
There are approximately 1,200 health centers operating nearly 9,000 service delivery sites nationwide and serving approximately 21 million patients each year. “Health centers work in communities across the country, giving them a unique opportunity to reach the uninsured in their communities and help connect them with the benefits of health insurance coverage under the health care law,” said HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield, Ph.D, R.N.
This funding by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), complements and aligns with other federal efforts, such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service funded navigator program that supports consumers in states that have federally facilitated or partnership exchanges. Sebelius said the new funding announcement is part of the administration’s effort to make applying for health insurance as easy as possible. For example, HHS has streamlined the coverage application from 21 to 3 pages.
“Health centers have extensive experience providing eligibility assistance to patients, are providing care in communities across the nation, and are well-positioned to support enrollment efforts,” Sebelius said. “Investing in health centers for outreach and enrollment assistance provides one more way the administration is helping consumers understand their options and enroll in affordable coverage.”