Seven Broward groups receive funding for healthcare enrollment outreach

 
 

SIGNED UP: U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, left, greets Stacy Sylvain as Josh Benson looks on Monday during a Hispanic Unity event in Hollywood.
SIGNED UP: U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, left, greets Stacy Sylvain as Josh Benson looks on Monday during a Hispanic Unity event in Hollywood.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

pborns@miamiherald.com

As the Obama administration continues trying to reach Hispanics who may be eligible for benefits under the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Monday announced a $440,000 grant to Broward Regional Health Planning Council that will help.

Wasserman Schultz, a South Florida Democrat and chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said the grant will help educate the county’s multi-cultural working families about their healthcare options under the ACA. The launch of the Spanish-language version of the ACA enrollment site, CuidadoDeSalud.gov, has been on hold since Oct. 1.

“Grants like these will make sure we can get the information out,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Early reports of health plan enrollment indicate that Hispanic participation has been low. The grant will be distributed among seven organizations including Hispanic Unity of Florida. An estimated 1.3 million uninsured Hispanics live in Florida.

“Computer access for our population is always a concern, as well as a lack of knowledge about health insurance,” Hispanic Unity CEO Josie Bacallao said. “Many people have never been insured, or come from countries with single payer systems.”

The grant will allow Bacallao’s organization to add employees to educate and enroll people in qualified health plans. Bacallao said she expects more than 80 percent of Hispanic Unity’s clients will meet the income threshold to apply for a subsidized health plan.

Wasserman Schultz also introduced three South Floridians who have enrolled under the ACA. Josh Benson of Delray Beach said he had suffered from chronic pancreatitis until his pancreas had to be removed, making him a diabetic. He was able to remain on his parents’ health plan for a while — a provision of the ACA — and then his parents paid $600 a month for a bare bones policy for him.

As of Jan. 1, Benson, who’s now 28, is fully covered under a new plan through the ACA that costs $177 a month.

Martin West, a small business owner from Dania Beach, said he reduced his family’s healthcare costs to their lowest in 10 years when he enrolled in a health plan on Healthcare.gov.

“Something had to be done about healthcare in this country. I think this is the start of what could be a more competitive system,” said West, a life-long Republican.

And Stacy Sylvain, a 19-year-old college student from North Miami Beach, enrolled in a $158-a-month plan after qualifying for a subsidy. Before she had insurance, she suffered a head injury and wound up with a $3,000 hospital bill that she’s still paying off.

An earlier version of this story misstated the recipient and scope of the grant.

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