Ahead of Oct. 1 enrollment, North Texas non-profits prepare for Affordable Care Act

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by MONIKA DIAZ

WFAA

Posted on August 16, 2013 at 8:12 PM

The United Way of Metropolitan Tarrant County received the largest grant in the nation to help Texas enroll in insurance programs under the Affordable Care Act.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is $5,889,171.

The organization is working with others across the state to promote the healthcare exchanges. The cost of the program is expected to be released in September.

Seventy-five full time employees will be hired in Texas to meet with families face-to-face. They are called navigators.

"Our top priority is to train the navigators as as soon as possible," said Don Smith, United Way vice president of community development.

Smith told News 8 the United Way chapter will hire eight navigators. In North Texas, The Community Council of Greater Dallas will hire the most navigators, and will target families in Dallas County and 17 other surrounding counties.

"It's sort of like being a circuit rider," said Marta Blaine, executive director of the Community Council of Greater Dallas. "Our folks will be out in the communities. One city one day, and another city another day."

According to Blaine, 14 counselors already on staff with experience in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program will be cross-trained in the health exchanges. Ten more counselors will be hired.

"We think we will probably do somewhere around 12,000 in the first year, with the in-persons assistance," Blaine said.

She admitted it's a tough task, but she's confident she and her team can get the job done.

"No, it's not enough [people,]" she said. "I wish we had 50 people, but that's how much we've been allocated for these particular counties."

In Dallas County, around 500,000 people don't have health insurance, and this team and others won't be able to get them all so the focus is targeting the eligible consumers they can sign up.

"We will be ready," Blaine said.

Enrollment opens October 1.

Click here to learn more about the Texas Health Insurance Marketplace

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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