Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced another round of funding to help Americans enroll in the Affordable Care Act's new online health insurance marketplace.
About $150 million is now available for community health centers nationwide to hire and train employees who would provide in-person help for the public about their insurance options in the marketplace, which is set to open for enrollment on Oct. 1.
Just last month, the administration announced $54 million in grants available to train people and organizations who would help consumers navigate the online marketplace. Hundreds of insurance plan options could be available in the marketplace.
HHS has allocated about $3 million in funding for Missouri’s health centers, which have to apply for the money by May 31. Centers are eligible for a base-rate of $55,000, but can specify their need for more money in the application. The funding will be distributed by Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency within HHS.
HRSA administrator Mary Wakefield said health centers are especially crucial in spreading awareness about the new Marketplace. The centers are usually located in areas where the medically underserved and uninsured population reside.
“It’s very important for them to be focusing their efforts on outreaching information and enrolling people in the community that might not be patients, but living in the neighborhoods where these community health centers are based,” Wakefield said.
Twenty-three health centers in Missouri are eligible to apply for the $3 million allocated for the state. The money comes the funding allocated by the Affordable Care Act to improve community health centers.
Community health centers serve 1 in 7 uninsured patients nationwide. Sixty percent of those who visit these centers are racial minorities, who represent a disproportionate population of the uninsured.