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San Diego Health Centers Get Federal Grants To Enroll People In New Plans

— Seven health centers in San Diego County have received federal grants to help enroll people in new insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. The centers will receive a total of more than $2 million to fund the effort.

Aired 7/10/13 on KPBS News.

Awareness about the Affordable Care Act remains low. Millions of dollars in new federal grants are part of an effort to change that.

Families soon will be able to sign up for new health insurance options through the Affordable Care Act. In Washington, D.C., Dr. Cheryl Focht of Mary's Center performs a checkup of Jayson Gonzalez, 16, while his mother, Elizabeth Lopez, looks on.

Family Health Centers of San Diego won the largest local award, which totals more than $861,000.

The nonprofit will use the money to hire outreach workers, application assistants and a social media coordinator.

Spokeswoman Jeannette Lawrence Shay said for the next few months, staff will try to spread the word about the Affordable Care Act.

"But once it becomes October 1 and people can actually sign up for Covered California and the expanded Medi-Cal, our staff will be sitting with people one-on-one helping people complete their applications, get all of the documentation they need and submit them," Shay said.

San Ysidro Health Center also received a grant to do outreach and enrollment. It operates 11 clinics in the South Bay.

The center's president, Kevin Mattson, said anyone can get primary care at his clinics and that those who enroll in one of the new insurance plans will get a lot more.

"These patients, by getting on the insurance exchange, or Covered California, would have coverage for specialty care, hospitalizations, surgery, outpatient surgery, all the other diagnostic things that we don't do at San Ysidro Health Center," Mattson said.

Statewide, health centers have received nearly $22 million to enroll the uninsured. Officials hope to provide more than 500,000 Californians with new health coverage.

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