Today, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced more than $2.5 million to educate and enroll uninsured individuals and families living in rural America in new health coverage options through the Affordable Care Act.
Rural health organizations across the country will receive $25,000 each from HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to help people in their communities understand the benefits available to them, eligibility requirements and options in their State Health Insurance Marketplaces. These organizations include universities, local and critical hospitals, and other rural non-profit or public organizations.
"Soon millions of Americans in rural communities will have new opportunities for quality, affordable health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace," said Secretary Sebelius. "Through these awards, trusted community providers will help people understand their coverage options, including whether they can get a discount on costs."
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is also helping with the national outreach effort through the Cooperative Extension Service. Through funding provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services , USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture is working with the University of Georgia to establish a network of educators to help uninsured and underinsured consumers make informed decisions about participating in the Health Insurance Marketplace. The University of Georgia will use the $1.25 million inter-agency agreement to coordinate outreach activities in 12 states.
"Nearly one in five uninsured adults in the United States live in a rural area, and there is a great need to educate rural consumers about their insurance options under the Affordable Care Act," Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said. "USDA and its partners in the Cooperative Extension Service are uniquely positioned to connect with local communities in rural America, providing valuable education and outreach to consumers about their healthcare options."
The awards complement other federal efforts underway that help consumers make the best health care choices for themselves and their families. Along with the new, consumer-focused HealthCare.gov website and the 24-hour-a-day consumer call center, these new tools will help Americans understand their coverage options and select the plan that best suits their needs when open enrollment in the new Health Insurance Marketplace begins October 1, 2013.
For a list of HRSA awardees, please visit: http://www.hrsa.gov/about/news/2013tables/ruraloutreach/