Covered California awards $37 million in 'outreach and education' grants

June 11, 2013

A total of $37 million was doled out by Covered California in the month of May, as part of a massive outreach and education campaign designed to educate Californians on how they can access coverage through the Affordable Care Act beginning in January 2014.

According to Covered California, the funds were distributed to a total of 48 lead organizations, ranging from the Regents of the University of California to the non-profit Actors Fund. Officials claim that the selected organizations will reach nearly 9 million individuals and more than 200,000 small businesses in California, and that the lead organizations will be supported by 226 subcontracting entities.

Those entities that weren’t selected will be able to apply as “Assister Enrollment Entities,” which will be trained, certified and in many cases paid by Covered California to help individuals enroll in exchange plans.

On top of the outreach and education grants, Covered California also announced that it had agreed to pay roughly $12 million to the Weber Shandwick PR firm to oversee an $86 million advertising campaign.

As Covered California continues to roll out its massive marketing and outreach program, physician across California are still wondering what, if any, role they will be asked to play when the state’s new online marketplace is officially launched in January 2014.

While representatives of Covered California, including Peter Lee, the exchange’s executive director, have noted that there are plans to use physicians as part of the outreach effort, little progress has come from such remarks.

At Covered California’s meeting on May 23, Lee identified physicians and other clinicians as a significant gap in the current outreach and education coverage, noting that physicians in particular were critical due to their recognition as “trusted advisors” in target communities. California Medical Association (CMA) staff offered comments explaining that the grant application was not designed for provider entities and that CMA was willing to partner to craft strategies to obtain greater physician involvement in the outreach and education efforts.

With pre-enrollment for exchange plans set to begin in October, Covered California will have to act fast if it hopes to take advantage of what could be one of its most valuable outreach resources – California’s physicians.


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