Community health centers getting money to help people get covered

Connecticut’s community health centers are eligible to receive an estimated $1.55 million in federal funds to enroll people in health insurance, federal officials announced Thursday.

The funds are part of $150 million being awarded to health centers across the country as part of the federal health reform law, the Affordable Care Act.

The money is expected to be used to hire new staff, train existing staff and perform outreach and educational activities. The idea is to help consumers understand what coverage is available to them, determine what they’re eligible for, and help them get enrolled.

Most of the patients at community health centers are uninsured or covered by Medicaid, and the health centers are expected to treat many of the patients who become insured through the Affordable Care Act. Federal health reform will expand access to health insurance by making more people eligible for Medicaid and by providing subsidies to help people below certain income levels buy private insurance through new insurance markets known as exchanges. Both of those changes will take effect Jan. 1.

The Office of the Healthcare Advocate, working with the state’s exchange, is recruiting people and organizations to serve as “assisters” to help people learn about the new insurance options and sign up.