NWCEP takes on health care aidMADISON — A northwest employment agency with an office in Superior has been awarded $285,000 in federal funds to help people enroll for health insurance through exchanges to be established under the Affordable Care Act.
By: Kevin Murphy/For the Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram
MADISON — A northwest employment agency with an office in Superior has been awarded $285,000 in federal funds to help people enroll for health insurance through exchanges to be established under the Affordable Care Act.
The Northwest Wisconsin Concentrated Employment Program was one of six Wisconsin agencies to learn last week that it will receive a combined $1 million to help people navigate the coverage options.
“Our role is to help people understand and enroll for coverage, whether that’s individuals or small business,” said Brad Gingras NWCEP, chief operating officer.
Two years ago, Congress enacted a sweeping change of how health care would be delivered to the uninsured. It has since developed a number of snags including Gov. Scott Walker’s refusal to have the state operate the exchanges through which health insurance would be brokered.
Instead, the federal government will operate exchanges, likely through regional networks that must be in place by Oct. 1.
Because the program has yet to get off the ground, Gingras didn’t have many answers as to when and what his staff would be telling those seeking insurance.
“There are many details we have yet to learn, too. This is very fresh for us but we’ll be learning about these initiatives and how to carry out our objectives,” he said.
Gingras and others will be meeting with Department of Health Services and would have a better idea of the information NWCEP will be disseminating to those wanting to obtain health insurance.
“We’ll try to get the word out in as many different ways as possible; through small groups, one-on-one, using libraries. Marketing will be key,” he said.
NWCEP plans to carry out the initiative with current staff as Gingras said it’s too early to say if they will be hiring for the new initiative.
NWCEP, Inc. has been in the employment and training business for 45 years, serving 10 northwest counties. Gingras acknowledges the health insurance navigator task is a “bit different,” but he envisions clients who come for employment training would now also get information on obtaining insurance, too.
In addition to Superior and Ashland, NWCEP has offices in Spooner, Hayward, Ladysmith, Park Falls and Medford, and health insurance information should be available next month at all its offices, said Gingras.
Those interested can call 888-780-4237.