Three local health centers will benefit from grant dollars released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced $150 million in grant awards to 1,159 health centers across the country. The money will be used to help enroll uninsured Americans in health care plans available through the Affordable Care Act.
Indiana will receive more than $2.3 million for its 19 health centers. Those centers have 102 sites that served 285,940 patients last year, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration.
The funding, geared for outreach and enrollment, will allow 47 workers in Indiana to be hired, who will help nearly 88,000 people in the enrollment process for affordable health insurance coverage, according to the administration.
Among the Indiana centers receiving funding are Community HealthNet in Gary, Healthlinc in Valparaiso and Northshore Health Centers in Portage.
The Gary center was awarded $82,122; the Valparaiso center received $174,302; and the Portage center was granted $190,252, according to data from the Health Resources and Services Administration.
Community HealthNet serves as lead agency in Lake County for Covering Kids and Families of Indiana, a statewide initiative to ensure that children and families eligible for Medicaid and the State's Children's Health Insurance Program are enrolled.
“Of course, identifying eligible uninsured families without health insurance is a challenge,” said Lisa Adediran, Covering Kids and Families program coordinator. “There are many people who think they are not eligible because they work or because they are not familiar with the system. Our goal, in addition to enrollment, is to build awareness of the various state health insurance options and to educate on the upcoming roll out of the Affordable Care Act.”
During a conference call with the media Wednesday, Sebelius said the money will aid in hiring almost 3,000 full-time outreach workers to help people take advantage of health care opportunities through the ACA.
"Education and outreach will be a critical part of seizing that opportunity," she said.
Many Americans feel frustrated, gouged and turned away by the current health care system, Sebelius said.
"The challenge of enrollment pales in comparison to the benefit millions of American stand to gain," she said.