HARRISBURG – Five Pennsylvania-based health care organizations will receive more than $2.7 million in federal tax money to help residents of the state navigate the particulars of the new federal health care law.
Beginning Oct. 1, millions of Americans will have the power to purchase health care through government-run exchanges – something like a medical version of Amazon.com. Through the sites, buyers will purchase generously subsidized private plans or sign up for Medicaid or Medicare.
Navigators will play a massive role in providing information to residents confused about the sweeping changes. The workers, after passing some sort of training course as mandated by HHS, will work one-on-one with the befuddled, the confused and the stupefied.
Nationwide, the grants total more than $67 million which will flow to 105 organizations. Some recipients include colleges, universities and nonprofit entities.
The grants have been doled out to states – like Pennsylvania – that choose not to set up their own health insurance exchange but to participate in a federally-run exchange.
Pennsylvania gets $2.7 million of the total, with the largest recipient in the state being Resources for Human Development, Inc., a national nonprofit. That group is getting more than $953,000 for Pennsylvania operations.
Other recipients of federal grants for Pennsylvania are: Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers ($694,000), Mental Health America ($503,129), Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers’ Association ($380,000) and Cardon Healthcare Network ($178,000).
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday that the navigators will aid those Americans who prefer one-on-one interaction.
"We know there’s a lot of work to be done, but we’ll be ready for whatever comes up," she said.
Private businesses are also getting involved in the push for Obamacare. Pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens recently announced they would help customers sign-up for coverage on the exchanges. Their plans include events at retail locations and advertisements promoting the new insurance marketplaces.
Watchdog.org’s Dustin Hurst contributed to this report.
Boehm is a reporter for PA Independent and can be reached at Eric@PAIndependent.com. Follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.
The Pennsylvania Independent is a public interest journalism project dedicated to promoting open, transparent, and accountable state government by reporting on the activities of agencies, bureaucracies, and politicians in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is funded by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a conservative nonprofit organization.