Community Action Kentucky and the Kentuckiana Regional Planning Development Agency are the first two agencies to receive money from the state to serve as counselors to help some 640,000 Kentuckians sign up for health insurance.
Community Action received $3.4 million and the development agency, $937,982. The two groups will cover five of the state's eight geographic Medicaid regions, according to a news release issued Monday by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
Bids will be awarded for the other five regions later in the year.
Other agencies and volunteers will be able to receive free training in becoming a certified application counselor, or navigator, to help people determine their insurance needs. A form and instructions on how to participate as a certified application counselor will be available on the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange website no later than Aug. 27 at HealthBenefitExchange.ky.gov.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration recently awarded grants to 20 health centers to hire 52 additional workers who will assist with enrollment, which will further complement these efforts. This activity is all related to the Affordable Care Act, which requires nearly every American to sign up for health insurance or pay a tax penalty. In Kentucky, residents can visit a website, KyNect.ky.gov or call 1-855-459-6328. The site and phone call are informational only until Oct. 1 when people can actually begin to sign up for insurance.