USF gets $4.2 M federal grant to help uninsured across Florida navigate health care coverage options

The Department of Health and Human Services navigator award is the largest in Florida, and second nationwide

A $4.2 million grant awarded to the University of South Florida will help eligible uninsured individuals get health care.  The one-year grant, awarded by the Depart­ment of Health and Human Services, will help individuals who want in-person assistance with shopping for and enrolling in plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace, the health insurance exchanges scheduled to begin open enrollment Oct. 1.

The Florida Covering Kids & Families program (FL-CKF) at the USF Chiles Center for Healthy Mothers and Babies, received the second largest award nationwide out of $67 million in “Navigator” grant awards distributed to 105 organizations.   USF got the largest of these awards among eight recipients in Florida.

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L to R: USF President Judy Genshaft; Jodi Ray, project director of the Florida Covering Kids & Families program at the USF Chiles Center; and Donna Petersen, ScD, interim senior vice president, USF Health, and dean, College of Public Health.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recognized FL-CKF’s well-established, successful community outreach in helping thousands of uninsured children in Florida get health care following her announcement of the new awards Aug. 15 at a press conference in the USF College of Health.  Sebelius was introduced by Donna Petersen, ScD, interim senior vice president of USF Health and dean of the public health college.

“Navigators will be among the many resources available to help consumers understand their coverage options in the marketplace,” Sebelius said, “so they can find the option that best fits their budget and need.”

USF will oversee and work with consortium of 10 partners in all but three counties in Florida.  Counselors, or navigators, will be trained and certified  to guide people seeking health insurance coverage through the new online marketplace.  They will provide unbiased information in a culturally competent manner to consumers about health insurance;  the new Health Insurance Marketplace, qualified health plans, and public programs including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance.

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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the new navigator grant awards to media attending a press conference at USF.

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Jodi Ray, project director of FL-CKF, said the new DHHS award will allow USF to build on a network already in place to serve a larger population of individuals in need of health insurance coverage.  

“This grant will help us expand the work we have been doing to enroll children to additionally include adults,” Ray said. “We have many community-based grassroots efforts that will allow navigators to go to the places where people are to assist them there.”

“I’m very proud of what we’ve done here at USF Health and the USF College of Public Health to build the infrastructure that enables families to seek and find healthcare insurance coverage for their children, increases access to high-quality health care, creates clinical interventions that are effective,  and, at the population level, helps to advance healthier communities,” Dr. Petersen said. “This award  is recognition of that and our capacity to make life better.”

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L to R: USF President Judy Genshaft, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Interim Senior Vice Presidentfor USF Health Donna Petersen, U.S.Representative Kathy Castor, and FL-CKF Project Director Jodi Ray.

USF will work with the following 10 partners in expanding its education, outreach and enrollment: 

  • Health Council of Southeast FloridaThe Kids Healthcare Foundation
  • Primary Care Access Network
  • Health Planning Council of Southwest Florida
  • WellFlorida Council
  • United Way of Brevard
  • Panhandle Area Educational Consortium
  • Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida
  • Northwest Florida Comprehensive Services for Children (Families Count)
  • Florida CHAIN.

-Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications