Connecticut community health centers are getting federal funds to hire 28 people to help enroll uninsured state residents in coverage as part of the federal health reform law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday.

Thirteen Connecticut health centers are getting just under $1.6 million for the effort, part of $150 million in grants being awarded to 1,159 community health centers nationwide.

Connecticut’s community health centers serve close to 330,000 people, nearly a quarter of whom are uninsured. They’re expected to absorb much of the new demand for health care that’s expected as more people gain coverage to pay for care.

Once the new coverage provisions of the federal health reform law take effect Jan. 1, more state residents will be eligible for Medicaid. Those who earn too much for Medicaid will be eligible to buy insurance through Access Health CT, a new insurance marketplace, and many will qualify for discounted rates based on their income.

The health center grants are one part of a wider push to get people to sign up for coverage. Access Health is advertising and will conduct door-to-door outreach to people in areas where being uninsured is common. That organization and the Office of the Healthcare Advocate are also recruiting organizations to help people learn about the new coverage options and sign them up.

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Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

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