$990K Federal Grant to Teach High School Students In Los Angeles How To Promote Obamacare

By Taylor Knopf | July 18, 2013 | 12:43pm EDT

James A. Garfield H.S. in Los Angeles (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) -- Thousands of high school students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), including those who scored below average on their eighth grade reading and math tests, will soon be encouraged to learn how to sell Obamacare to their families under a $43 million federal grant.

California was the first state in the nation to create a health benefit exchange to comply with the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The health care exchange, known as Covered California, will receive $43 million of federal funding.

Of that amount, $37 million will be given to 48 organizations for outreach and education programs, including a $990,000 grant to LAUSD to produce “teens trained to be messengers to family members” about Obamacare.

Details of the LAUSD grant include “outreach calls” to families and “adult-student class presentations.” (See Outreeach and Education Grant Program.pdf)

“The goal of the grant program is to increase awareness about the new benefits, to educate targeted audiences about the subsidy programs available to them and to motivate consumers and small businesses to be part of obtaining health insurance,” said a May 14 Covered California press release. (See Covered California.pdf)

“2,500 juniors and seniors, all volunteers, will be trained to share information about Covered California Health Plans with relatives and neighbors that are part of the population eligible to enroll. These student helpers also have expressed interest in health careers. Many come from homes of limited English speakers, including Spanish, Mandarin, Korean and Armenian. Teenage helpers speak approximately 30 different languages. Bilingual students help bridge the communications gap,” Covered California officer Larry Hicks told CNSnews.com.

Hicks said the voluntary after-school program hopes to attract 2,500 students between 16 and 18 years of age over a three-semester time period. The number will only reflect about 3.4 percent of all 11th and 12th grade students in the LAUSD, he added.

But LAUSD already has its hands full teaching basic reading and math to students attending its 900 schools and 187 public charter schools

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as “The Nation’s Report Card,” 44 percent of LAUSD eighth graders tested below average in reading (See LAUSD reading 2011.pdf) and 51 percent scored below average in math (See LAUSD math 2011.pdf) in 2011.

Other schools receiving outreach and education grants from Covered California are California State University Los Angeles, University Auxiliary Services (UAS) and University of Southern California (USC)

California State will receive a $1,250,000 grant from Covered California for student orientation and faculty events, including “student welcome packets” that promote Obamacare.

USC will receive $500,000 for student tables/booths and informational sessions. All grants are for the purpose of promoting and educating Californians on health coverage provided by the Covered California health care exchange.

“We are excited to build on our partnerships with organizations that have trusted relationships in diverse communities throughout the state,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California in the May 14 press release announcing the grants.

“Together, we can significantly strengthen our effort to ensure as many Californians as possible are aware of and are enrolled in the new health insurance options this fall for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014.”

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