Administration set to double number of outreach workers in community health centers

May 09, 2013

The White House announced plans to make available $150 million marked for efforts to double the number of outreach workers at up to 1,200 community health centers, who are likely to be in contact with uninsured individuals who might be eligible for health care coverage.

“Community health centers are going to be key partners in the goal of helping Americans learn about and enroll in affordable health coverage,” said Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, on a conference call with reporters. She went on to say that the effort would be have particular  impact on minorities, who are “disproportionately represented among the uninsured” and often seek care at community health centers.

Reviewing the HRSA announcement will give Network readers a glimpse into why it is so important for children’s mental health advocates to become involved with Navigators and outreach workers. The more knowledgeable individuals in these positions are about the array of mental health services families need and should be receiving the better.

  • Please read our Morning Zen piece on the new joint announcement between CMS and SAMHSA pertaining to Medicaid coverage for children’s mental health services.

Here is an excerpt from the HRSA “Funding Opportunity Requirements” section of the document explaining the purpose of the FY 2013 Health Center Outreach and Enrollment Assistance supplemental funding. We have highlighted just a few of the key statements in these requirements that should motivate children’s mental health advocates to get involved with these efforts:

  • Excerpt from the HRSA announcement. Yellow highlights are ours…

The purpose of the FY 2013 Health Center Outreach and Enrollment Assistance supplemental funding is to support health centers in raising awareness of affordable insurance options and providing eligibility and enrollment assistance to uninsured patients of health centers and residents in their approved service areas. To receive the outreach and enrollment assistance supplemental funds, a health center must:

  • Increase the health center’s current outreach and enrollment assistance capacity. This can be accomplished by expanding the hours of existing outreach and eligibility/enrollment assistance workers and/or by hiring new outreach and enrollment assistance workers. A minimum of at least 1.0 full-time equivalent (FTE) must be added to the health center’s current outreach and enrollment assistance capacity. Health center outreach and enrollment assistance workers supported by this funding opportunity must:
    • Ensure all health center outreach and enrollment assistance workers (i.e., current and newly supported) comply with and successfully complete all required and applicable federal and/or state consumer assistance training, as is required for all assistance personnel carrying out consumer assistance functions. Training will be similar to that provided to entities or individuals who are recipients of the Navigator cooperative agreements or employees or staff of those recipients hired to serve as Navigators.
    • a. Demonstrate and maintain expertise in: eligibility and enrollment rules and procedures; the range of qualified health plan options and insurance affordability programs; the needs of underserved and vulnerable populations; and privacy and security standards.
    • b. Perform, at a minimum, the following required duties:
      • i. Conduct public education activities to raise awareness about coverage options available under Medicaid, CHIP and the Marketplace;
      • ii. Help individuals understand and access affordability options;
      • iii. Provide information and assistance in a fair, accurate, and impartial manner;
      • iv. Provide information and assistance in a manner that is culturally and linguistically appropriate to diverse communities and accessible to individuals with disabilities; and
      • v. Provide referrals to any applicable office of health insurance consumer assistance or ombudsman established under Section 2793 of the PHS Act to address consumer grievances, complaints, or questions about their health plan, coverage, or a determination.
    • Demonstrate the capacity to conduct “in reach” with currently uninsured health center patients and “outreach” to non-health center patients in their approved service area. Health center outreach and enrollment assistance workers will be required to help any patient or resident seeking outreach and enrollment assistance. In instances where health center outreach and enrollment assistance workers do not have the immediate capacity to adequately help an individual due to language or other barriers, the health center outreach and enrollment assistance workers must provide timely referrals to other resources, such as the toll-free Marketplace Call Center, or to other state or local entities that can more effectively serve that individual.
    • Describe how they will collaborate with other health centers and providers in their service area to ensure that outreach and enrollment assistance activities are coordinated with other local, regional, and/or state-wide outreach and enrollment assistance efforts and training requirements.
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