USF receives $4.2M to help people sign up for Obamacare

6:15 PM, Aug 15, 2013   |    comments
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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, speaking at USF on Thursday, Aug. 15, knows the clock is ticking.
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Tampa, Florida -- For most folks health insurance can be confusing and when people begin using Florida's online marketplace in October to look at their options, questions are expected to flow like a flood.

And Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, speaking at USF on Thursday, knows the clock is ticking. 

"Now we're less than 50 days away from connecting millions of Americans who don't have insurance," said Sebelius at a news conference at the USF College of Public Health.

To help consumers consider insurance plans and enroll, the federal government has already set up this website and a 24/7 call center. But to give Floridians some one-on-one help, the feds are giving eight groups in the state grants totaling $7.8 million to start what are called Navigator programs.

Sebelius explained it this way, "We also know people prefer in-person assistance, to ask questions and make sure they have all the right information, to help find them a plan that fits their budget and need."

The USF College of Public Health gets the bulk of the money allocated to Florida -- $4.2 million. The College already has experience assisting poor children gain insurance and medical care and USF will work with a network of agencies to reach the uninsured statewide.

"We're going to be shaking the bushes, where we know folks shop, where they eat, where they live, in their neighborhoods, in their neighborhood associations, where they get gas," said Jodi Ray of USF.

Critics of Obamacare have questioned whether Navigators, with just 20 hours of training, will truly be able to help people. But Sebelius is convinced Navigators will live up to their name.

And USF isn't the only local group receiving grant money for Navigators; Pinellas County also received a grant.

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