HHS Funneling $150M to Community Health Centers to Spur Obamacare Enrollment

By Susan Jones | May 10, 2013 | 6:08 AM EDT

Draft of application for Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - The funding spigot is opening wider, as the Obama administration promotes health insurance for everyone.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday announced "new funding" -- $150 million -- to help community health centers provide in-person enrollment assistance to uninsured people across the nation.  

The Health and Human Services Department said the funding is part of the Obama administration's "larger effort to make applying for health insurance as easy as possible."

Some 1,200 community health centers, which serve approximately 21 million patients each year, are invited to apply for the funding.

“Health centers have extensive experience providing eligibility assistance to patients, are providing care in communities across the nation, and are well-positioned to support enrollment efforts,” Sebelius said. “Investing in health centers for outreach and enrollment assistance provides one more way the Obama administration is helping consumers understand their options and enroll in affordable coverage.”

The taxpayer moeny will allow health centers to hire new staff, train existing staff, and conduct community outreach events and other educational activities, HHS said. The health centers also will "help consumers understand their coverage options, determine their eligibility and enroll in "new affordable health insurance options."

Community health center staff will provide "unbiased information" to consumers about health insurance, the new health exchanges, qualified health plans, and Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program."

The news release touted the fact that HHS is trying to make it as easy as possible for Americans to sign up for Obamacare: "For example, last week, we released a single, streamlined application that was shortened from 21 to 3 pages.  We are committed to providing the type of assistance that Americans need to ensure that they have access to affordable health care."

As CNSNews.com recently reported, Sebelius was unable to give specific answers to detailed questions about Obamacare implementation to the Senate Finance Committee last month. That prompted Sen. Max Baucus (a Montana Democrat who helped write the law) to predict that he sees a "train wreck coming."

Today (Friday), President Obama will talk up the Democrats' huge, complex health insurance law at a White House rally. The Associated Press said the rally will have a Mother's Day theme, as the president explains how Obamacare benefits women, including offering them free preventive care and contraception.

The government-mandated "free contraception," which includes sterilization and abortifacients, is unpalatable to many Catholic and other Christian businesses and individuals, and it is the subject of ongoing litigation.

Beginning Oct. 1, consumers can enroll in coverage through health insurance marketplaces called "exchanges" established by the states (or by the federal government in states that refused to set up their own exchanges). The actual health coverage begins on Jan. 1, 2014.