In the face of surging criticism over implementation of President Obama’s health care law, federal officials on Wednesday awarded $150 million in grant funds to more than 1,000 health centers across the nation charged with helping the uninsured explore their options for coverage.
With the funds, the health centers are expected to hire 2,900 more people to assist millions of Americans seeking coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid or state-by-state health care markets, which are scheduled to open for enrollment on Oct. 1 and will help people without employer-based coverage to buy insurance through government subsidies.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is scheduled to outline plans for the grant funds Wednesday in Phoenix.
Mrs. Sebelius said health centers serve 21 million Americans and have a long track record of helping patients determine their eligibility for government assistance.
Her department’s push to raise awareness about the law comes amid mounting Republican criticism of Mr. Obama’s signature domestic achievement, after the White House decided this month to put off the controversial “employer mandate” by one year to 2015.
The delay pushes the imposition of the mandate’s penalties past the midterm elections.
Republican leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee convened a hearing Wednesday to explore the controversial decision.
Supporters of the law say the White House was trying to be flexible in light of the mandate’s complex requirements, while GOP-led critics called it a political ploy that provides no relief to individual Americans who are still subject to other mandates in the law.