Local United Way takes lead on grant to help enroll Texans for healthcare

Posted Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Despite what you may think about the Affordable Care Act or some lawmakers’ intentions to derail its implementation, it is the law and plans are underway to carry out its mission of providing health insurance for as many Americans as possible.

That became even clearer Thursday when it was announced that $10.8 million in federal funds has been awarded to eight Texas organizations, including the United Way of Tarrant County, to recruit and train people who will educate the public about health insurance exchanges and enroll individuals by Oct. 1.

The local United Way chapter, representing a coalition of 17 entities around the state, will receive $5.8 million, by far the largest grant.

Texas, which has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country, is one of the states that decided not to participate in what is commonly called Obamacare. Instead, the federal government will set up health exchanges where low-income Texans may buy insurance on a sliding scale.

Of the almost 4.9 million Texans without insurance, more than half are eligible for coverage under the exchanges, said Don Smith, director of the Area Agency on Aging and vice president for economic development for the United Way.

In Tarrant County, 341,149 people are uninsured.

Tarrant County’s United Way, with a mission that includes improving the lives of the elderly and disabled, was chosen as lead agency for the coalition partly because of its track record of going after, receiving and managing large projects, Smith said. Other members of the consortium include a couple of other United Ways, 10 councils of governments and the city of Houston.

A lot of work must be done in a few weeks to train 81 people for the project, 75 of whom will be “navigators” providing direct service in getting people signed up.

This is a worthy endeavor to benefit those in need, no matter how the politics of healthcare play out.

And the grant awarded to United Way as lead agent is only further evidence of the local agency’s record of commitment and competence.

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