CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Nonprofit organizations from around the state will receive small grants to help enroll people in Medicaid or the health insurance exchange, West Virginians for Affordable Health Care announced Tuesday.Thirty local health departments, grass-roots organizations, faith-based groups and others will receive up to $5,000 in grant funding to become community-assisters who help connect insured people to in-person assisters who can enroll them beginning Oct. 1."I think they're going to play a significant role in getting the uninsured to a library where the in-person assister can come in and explain to them about the program and get them enrolled," said Perry Bryant, executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Care.The grant funding -- altogether around $130,000 -- will come from four different foundations: the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the Highmark Foundation, the Sisters of St. Joseph Charitable Fund and the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation.More than 60 nonprofit groups applied for funding, Bryant said. Final decisions on which organizations got grants were difficult to make, he said.West Virginians for Affordable Health Care will train the volunteers and provide the organizations with ongoing technical assistance, Bryant said. They'll also have monthly phone calls with the organizations after meetings with the state Office of Insurance Commissioner, he said.
Bryant called the grant program unique."I don't know of any other state in the country that's doing this," Bryant said. "It's been a lot of work. We got four different foundations to come together to pool their resources and they've helped us work through the process of who to select."The organizations that will receive funding are: Beckley Health Right, Beckley, Hinton and Princeton; Berkeley County Health Department, Martinsburg; Big Creek People in Action, McDowell County; Boys & Girls Club of Parkersburg; Brooke County Health Department, Wellsburg; Catholic Charities, Wheeling; Christian Help, Mingo County; Community Connections, Princeton;Covenant House, Charleston; Eastern Pan Free Clinic, Ranson; Future Generations, Franklin; Good Samaritan Clinic, Parkersburg; Greenbrier County Health Department, Ronceverte; Hancock County Health Department, New Cumberland; West Virginia Health Right, Charleston; Lewis County Family Resource Network, Weston; Marshall University, Huntington;Mineral County Family Resource Network, Keyser; Morgan County Starting Points, Berkeley Springs; Milan Puskar Health Right, Morgantown; Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Community Corrections, Parkersburg; Nicholas County Starting Point Center, Richwood; Partnership of African American Churches, Institute;Raleigh County Community Action Program, Beckley; Southern Appalachian Labor School, Oak Hill; Taylor County Family Resource Network, Grafton; Tucker County Family Resource Network, Parsons; WV FREE, Charleston; and West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, Charleston.Reach Lori Kersey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1240.