Federal officials awarded $150 million in grants to over 1,000 health centers across the country today in an attempt to help uninsured Americans find options for health insurance coverage. The grants were announced despite criticism over the latest delay in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Health centers are meant to use the funds to hire about 2,900 more outreach and eligibility assistance workers to help Americans find health care coverage under the expansion of Medicaid or through state-by-state health care markets, which are scheduled to open for enrollment on October 1. The new workers will also help consumers understand their options through the new Health Insurance Marketplace and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
“Investing in health centers means that people in neighborhoods and towns across the country have one more resource to help them understand their insurance options and enroll in affordable coverage,” Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.
Sebelius outlined the plan for the grants this afternoon at the Mountain Park Health Center in Phoenix, Ariz. The announcement is part of the administration’s effort to make applying for health care coverage easier, which also includes the HealthCare.gov website and the 24-hour-a-day consumer call center.
“Having trained, face-to-face assistance in enrollment from trusted resources at local health centers means that more people will get the help they need,” Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Mary Wakefield, Ph.D, R.N, said.
Meanwhile, the delay in the implementation of the health care law sets its imposition past midterm elections. Supporters claim the delay is an exercise of flexibility given the law’s complex requirements, while critics cite its lack of relief for Americans still subject to other mandates of the law.