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Maine Groups Get Grants to Help Uninsured Navigate ACA Exchange
08/16/2013   Reported By: Patty B. Wight

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded more than half-a-million dollars to two organizations that will help Mainers sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. As Patty Wight reports, it's the latest injection of federal money to help educate the public, as the grand opening of the online insurance marketplace approaches.

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The grant money is to fund so-called "navigators," who will help those who need to buy health insurance on the online marketplace that opens Oct. 1 understand their options. Western Maine Community Action  received $475,000, which will be used in a number of ways, says their health services navigator Jake Grindle.

"Education and outreach to help people understand what's changing in health care," Grindle says. "And we'll also be providing assistance to people who need help with the enrollment and application process for new insurance options that'll be offered through the health insurance marketplace."

The Massachusetts-based Fishing Partnership Health Plan received more than $66,000 to collaborate with the Maine Lobstermen's Association for education and outreach.

These latest grants thicken the pot of federal money that's already been awarded to the state to help implement the Affordable Care Act. In July, Maine's 19 federally-qualified health centers received $1.4 million. Jeb Murphy is spokesperson for the Maine Primary Care Association, which represents the health centers.

"Each of them have one to two outreach and enrollment people, and they are going to be out and talking to who they've identified are the best populations for it," Murphy says.

Maine Primary Care Association CEO Vanessa Santarelli says the different grants are meant to complement efforts by multiple organizations that have the same ultimate goal: "To make sure that the broadest number of people throughout in the state of Maine are able to sign up for coverage, and get to enrolled in a medical or health home to meet the needs of themselves and their families," she says.

Maine's federally-qualified health centers serve about 200,000 people. Grant recipients say some education and outreach efforts are currently underway and will ramp up in the next few weeks.

Learn more about the new health care exchanges from the Maine Primary Care Association, or visit




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