(Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts)
Health centers across the country will start receiving grant money to help people enroll for health insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare." The $150 million will be used by 1,159 centers in all 50 states to hire new staff or set up enrollment stations in public places.
"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," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on a Wednesday press call announcing the new grants.
The money will not only be used to help people sign up for health insurance in the new government subsidized health care exchanges for those without employer provided health insurance. It will also be used to help people sign up for Medicaid (a government health insurance program for the poor) and SCHIP (a government health insurance program for children).
The main parts of the ACA are scheduled to go into effect on Oct. 1, but the rollout of the new law has, thus far, not gone smoothly.
Last week, President Barack Obama decided to delay implementation of the employer mandate to provide health insurance to employees for a year. The employer mandate was intended to be a key component of the law's efforts to offset the other parts of the law that are expected to increase the costs of health care.
Additionally, new rules released by HHS show that the government subsidies will rely upon self-verification, which could lead to increased fraud and drive up the costs of the new law. And health insurance companies may not be able to charge some smokers more, as was planned, due to a computer glitch.
Sebelius said that she will be traveling to health centers across the country, beginning Wednesday in Phoenix, Ariz., to highlight the work that these health centers will be doing on behalf of the new health care law.