The same day Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was testifying before Congress about the troubled Obamacare website Healthcare.gov and the improvements being made to it, her agency announced grants of $58 million to 1,157 community health centers to allow them to "expand their enrollment assistance efforts as more Americans enroll in affordable health insurance coverage." These grants come on top of $150 million previously given to such health centers to "support outreach and enrollment activities" for Obamacare. From the press release:
“Today’s awards build upon the efforts of health centers across the country as uninsured Americans gain health insurance coverage,” Secretary Sebelius said. “This investment means that health centers can provide expanded assistance for people in communities nationwide looking for resources to help them understand their insurance options and enroll in affordable coverage.”
With these awards, health centers will be able to meet immediate needs, including expanding the hours of existing outreach and enrollment assistance workers, and hiring new or temporary outreach and enrollment assistance workers. Today, health centers operate more than 9,000 service delivery sites nationwide and serve more than 21 million patients annually.
“Having more opportunities for face-to-face enrollment assistance from trusted resources at local health centers means that more people will get the help they need to sign up by the end of the open enrollment period on March 31, 2014,” said Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Mary Wakefield, Ph.D, R.N.
Note: A version of this article first appeared at The Weekly Standard.