Some valley groups get money to educate people on health overhaul

kcarlson@modbee.comMay 20, 2013 

California's health exchange has awarded $37 million in grants to educate up to 9 million consumers about the Affordable Care Act, with most of the funding going to outreach plans targeting a dozen or more counties.

None of the grants announced Tuesday were for groups that primarily focus services on Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced counties, which have large, culturally diverse populations of uninsured residents.

Catholic Charities of the Stockton Diocese, which has a long history of serving the poor and immigrant communities in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, was snubbed by Covered California. So was the Stanislaus County Office of Education, one of the more than 200 applicants.

United Way of California will receive $1 million over 20 months to work with chapters in 11 counties, including Stanislaus and Merced, to help people navigate the health reform program. The federal government will make health insurance mandatory next year and help eligible residents obtain affordable coverage through the exchange.

Other groups that are supposed to include Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties in their outreach efforts are California NAACP, Oakland-based California School Health Centers Association, Central Valley Health Network, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte and the University of California at Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities.

Stanislaus and Merced counties will be included in a University of California regents effort to educate students and young adults about the law.

Covered California officials said during a news conference that groups awarded funding will educate people through high-tech and "high-touch" community efforts. The exchange will spend money on a media blitz and could consider another round of grants later this year to fill gaps, officials said.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Stockton thought it had a strong proposal for educating hard-to-reach Latino and Asian populations in San Joaquin County. The charity serving San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties did not join with Catholic Charities of California, which was given $859,000 to do one-on-one and group education in Merced and 12 other counties.

Covered California funded five proposals to help more than 200,000 small-business owners understand the legal requirements and their options for insuring workers. They include the Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce, California Association of Non-Profits, California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce Foundation, Small Business Majority and California Small Business Education Foundation.

The 48 groups awarded funding are expected to reach consumers in all 58 counties, through 13 languages, including college students, single adults and families.

The Sacramento-based Central Valley Health Network, awarded $750,000 for outreach in 18 counties, will work with members of its consortium, which include Merced-based Golden Valley Health Centers, Livingston Medical Group and Community Medical Centers in Stockton.

Its plan for educating residents of Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin counties calls for presentations at schools, clinics, churches and community meetings, door-to-door counseling and outreach to colleges. The network will interact with people speaking Spanish, Hmong, Punjabi, Russian and Chinese, said Nichole Mosqueda, director of community and business development.

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